Nairobi (AsiaNews) - The lack of education and job opportunities is creating "the danger" of young people being “recruited" by extremism and violence, said Pope Francis responding to a question posed by a young man at the Kasarani stadium in Nairobi. The sports ground was bubbling with enthusiasm for the last public meeting of the Pope in Kenya, from where at15:30 (local time) he left for Uganda, the second leg his trip to Africa.
The last day in Kenya was marked by the visit to the slums of Kangemi and a meeting with young people. Both moments of great significance. To 100 thousand inhabitants of a "neighborhood" that lacks everything, he said that the poor and the marginalized, victims of the "terrible injustice of urban marginalization," "wounds caused by minorities that concentrate the power, wealth and selfishly squander", "have a special place in my life and in my choices. " They are bearers of values such as "solidarity, giving their life for others, preferring birth to death; giving a Christian burial to the dead” and they too deserve decent homes and access to work.
Speaking later to the young people, who welcomed him with songs and dances, in an impromptu speech in Spanish he denounced tribalism and corruption - which is "in all institutions, including the Vatican" - and recommended the defense of the family. "If you did not receive understanding, you are understand others. If you did not receive love, love others. If you have felt the pain of loneliness, draw close to those who are alone".
The slum and the house of the poor in Nairobi were the key moments of the Pope's visit in Kenya, from where he left at 15:30 local time bound for Uganda, the second leg of his first trip to Africa.
In Kangemi (pictured) Francis travelled in an open topped car along the narrow streets of the slums, accompanied by the warm welcome of the people, to the parish of St. Joseph the Worker, run by the Jesuits who run a clinic, a higher technical institute, a center of assistance to mothers in need.
"In fact - he told those present - I feel at home, sharing this moment with brothers and sisters, I'm not ashamed to say, you have a special place in my life and in my choices. I'm here because I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your joys and hopes, your fears and your sorrows. I know the problems you face every day! How can we not denounce the injustices? But first of all I want to focus on one aspect that the talk of exclusion, failing to recognize or seem to ignore. I want to refer to the wisdom of the neighborhoods. A wisdom that comes from 'stubborn resistance to what is authentic "(Enc. Laudato sì, 112), from Gospel values which the welfare society, numb from unbridled consumption, seem to have forgotten. You are able to weave "bonds of belonging and living together that transform the crowding in a community experience where you break the walls of the ego and overcome the barriers of selfishness" (ibid., 149)”.
In the neighborhoods there is a culture of solidarity
"The culture of poor neighbourhoods, steeped in this particular wisdom, “has very positive traits, which can offer something to these times in which we live; it is expressed in values such as solidarity, giving one’s life for others, preferring birth to death, providing Christian burial to one’s dead; finding a place for the sick in one’s home, sharing bread with the hungry (for ‘there is always room for one more seat at the table’), showing patience and strength when faced with great adversity, and so on” (Equipo de Sacerdotes para las Villas de Emergencia, Argentina, Reflexiones sobre urbanización y la cultura villera, 2010). Values grounded in the fact each human being is more important than the god of money. Thank you for reminding us that another type of culture is possible".
"I want in first place to uphold these values which you practice, values which are not quoted in the stock exchange, are not subject to speculation, and have no market price. I congratulate you, I accompany you and I want you to know that the Lord never forgets you. The path of Jesus began on the peripheries, it goes from the poor and with the poor, towards others.
To see these signs of good living that increase daily in your midst in no way entails a disregard for the dreadful injustice of urban exclusion. These are wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries.
This becomes even worse when we see the unjust distribution of land (if not in this neighbourhood, certainly in others) which leads in many cases to entire families having to pay excessive and unfair rents for utterly unfit housing. I am also aware of the serious problem posed by faceless “private developers” who hoard areas of land and even attempt to appropriate the playgrounds of your children’s schools. This is what happens when we forget that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone” (Centesimus Annus, 31)".
"One very serious problem in this regard is the lack of access to infrastructures and basic services. By this I mean toilets, sewers, drains, refuse collection, electricity, roads, as well as schools, hospitals, recreational and sport centres, studios and workshops for artists and craftsmen. I refer in particular to access to drinking water. “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (Laudato Si’, 30). To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need.
This situation of indifference and hostility experienced by poor neighbourhoods is aggravated when violence spreads and criminal organizations, serving economic or political interests, use children and young people as “canon fodder” for their ruthless business affairs. I also appreciate the struggles of those women who fight heroically to protect their sons and daughters from these dangers. I ask God that that the authorities may embark, together with you, upon the path of social inclusion, education, sport, community action, and the protection of families, for this is the only guarantee of a peace that is just, authentic and enduring.
These realities which I have just mentioned are not a random combination of unrelated problems. They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism which would make African countries “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel” (Ecclesia in Africa, 52). Indeed, countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like those aimed at lowering the birth rate, which seek “to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized” (Laudato Si’, 50).
In this regard, I would propose a renewed attention to the idea of a respectful urban integration, as opposed to elimination, paternalism, indifference or mere containment. We need integrated cities which belong to everyone. We need to go beyond the mere proclamation of rights which are not respected in practice, to implementing concrete and systematic initiatives capable of improving the overall living situation, and planning new urban developments of good quality for housing future generations. The social and environmental debt owed to the poor of cities can be paid by respecting their sacred right to the “three Ls”: Land, Lodging, Labour. This is not a question of philanthropy; rather it is a duty incumbent upon all of us.
I wish to call all Christians, and their pastors in particular, to renew their missionary zeal, to take initiative in the face of so many situations of injustice, to be involved in their neighbours’ problems, to accompany them in their struggles, to protect the fruits of their communitarian labour and to celebrate together each victory, large or small. I realize that you are already doing much, but I ask to remember this is not just another task; it may instead be the most important task of all, because “the Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 11 May 2007, 3).
Dear neighbours, dear brothers and sisters, let us together pray, work and commit ourselves to ensuring that every family has dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, reliable sources of energy for lighting, cooking and improving their homes; that every neighbourhood has streets, squares, schools, hospitals, areas for sport, recreation and art; that basic services are provided to each of you; that your appeals and your pleas for greater opportunity can be heard; that all can enjoy the peace and security which they rightfully deserve on the basis of their infinite human dignity. Mungu awabariki! God bless you!
Corruption is as sweet as sugar: we like it, but it “makes us sick”
In his unscripted responses to questions from young people, during his meeting with them at the stadium, the Pope began speaking about tribalism, which he compared to "hiding your hands behind your back" hiding stones that you are ready to hurl "against each other". He said this can only be defeated by everyone holding hands together. "Tribalism can only be overcome with your ear, your heart, and your hand. (Ask yourselves): What is your culture? Why are you like this? Why do your cousins have these customs? Do they feel inferior or superior? Once we’ve heard the response in our ears than it passes to our hearts and then I extend my hand. If you don’t dialogue with each other then you’re going to have division like a worm that grows in society
Regarding corruption teh Pope noted: “Corrupt people don’t live in peace”. “One example and it’s not just in politics, in all areas of life, also in the Vatican. These are cases of corruption. Corruption is something that eats inside, like sugar. Sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up in a bad way. So much sugar that we end up being diabetic or our country ends up being diabetic. Each time when we accept a bribe and we put it in our pockets, we destroy our hearts. we destroy our personalities, and we destroy our country. Please, don’t develop that taste for that sugar which is called corruption. You might say ‘but Holy Father, I see many who are corrupt. I see so many people who are sold. Just for a little bit of money. Without worrying about the livelihood of others. Young people: corruption is not a path to life, it’s a path to death!".
He also spoke of young people fascinated and recruited by radicalism. ''The first thing we have to do to stop a young person from being recruited is education and work. If a young person has no work than what future awaits him or her? And that’s where the idea of being seduced or recruited comes in. Even if there are small opportunities, without them what can they do? That is the danger. It’s a social danger which is beyond us and it’s even beyond the country because it depends on an international system that is unjust. It’s the injustice of having an economic system where the person is not the center but rather the god of money”.
From the young man whom Francis calls a "theologian", two questions. The first concerns the way in which it is possible to understand that "God is our Father", in the tragedies of life. The Pope responded by saying what helps him not to lose hope is keeping a rosary in his pocket and a box containing "the story of the failure of God", the Stations of the Cross. "There is only one road, look to the Son of God. God has given Himself to save us all. God Himself became tragedy. God let Himself be destroyed on the Cross. God became a tragedy. God allowed himself to be destroyed on the cross.
When you don’t understand something, when desperation hits you then look at the cross. That is the great failure of God, that is the destruction of God, and it’s a challenge to our faith. And this is hope, because history did not end in that failure. Rather it’s in the resurrection of Christ that renewed all of us".
The second question is for young people who have never known the love of a family. The Pope responded with an exhortation. "Defend the family. Defend the family always. everywhere there’s not only kids who are abandoned but also elderly are abandoned with no one to visit to them with no-one to love them, How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive. If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others. If you felt pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone, flesh is cured by flesh and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves”..
After the meeting with young people, a short time with the bishops of Kenya, the Pope left Kenya.