On Thursday, November 26, 2015, Pope Francis met with leaders and members of multiple faiths for the Ecumenical and Interreligious Meeting in Kenya. Read the full text of his addresses given by Mons. Peter Kairo, Rev.do Dott. Eliud Wabukala and Prof. Abdulghafur H. S. El –Busaidy below:
Mons. Peter Kairo, President of the Commision for Religious Dialogue
I take this opportunity on behalf of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops to welcome you your Holiness to Kenya. It is a great honor to be in your presence. KARIBU Kenya.
Kenya as a country has a very diverse religious background with Christianity leading in numbers but with significant presence of Islam and other Religions thanks to the religious freedom provided in the Kenyan constitution.
We have before you representatives of some of the religious leaders from main Religions in Kenya: African Traditionalists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, and Buddhists among others.
Also present are some of the main interfaith bodies working together in different ways to create a favorable environment for peaceful coexistence: National Council of Churches (NCCK), Interreligious Council of Kenya (IRCK) and Coastal interfaith group.
Dear friends, religious leaders, our guests, we are glad that you honored the invitation of the Holy Father and I welcome you all to this important encounter with the Holy Father. Feel at home.
I now humbly ask Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, Arch Bishop, Anglican Church of Kenya and Professor Abdulghafur H. S. El –Busaidy, Chairman of SUPKEM to deliver messages to the Holy Father on our behalf.
Rev.do Dott. Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya
Your Holiness it is with great pleasure and anticipation that I welcome you to our Nation on behalf of the Anglican Church of Kenya and other religious leaders. Karibu Sana Welcome to Kenya; Hakuna Matata. Your presence with us will be a great encouragement for all the Christians of Kenya as we seek to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through faithful discipleship.
We are grateful for your recent Encyclical Letter urging all Nations to adopt a circular model of production capable of. preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them as one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet.
We are also grateful for you Church’s historic commitment to the apostolic faith. We commend your leadership in convening the Synod on Family in October 2015, reaffirming the sanctity of life, the wholeness of marriage and the necessity of family, at a time when some of these principles are being called into question. As African Christians we cherish family, as taught in Scripture.
Africa is at a spiritual crossroads. We have many nominal Christians, but not as many committed ones. We are threatened by what you yourself have described as the ‘ideological colonialism’ of secularist lifestyles. So it is my prayer that all our churches will work together in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen; to kindle the hearts and minds of all believers anew.
Here in our region, we rejoice in the heritage of fall the East African Revival that brought the fire of God's love, the assurance of salvation and integrity of life to millions, transforming our culture and raising hope across three generations. We pray that your visit will encourage Christians throughout all churches in Africa, to continue steadfastly upholding the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while influencing society positively and constructively.
Your Holiness, it is our deep conviction, one which I am sure we share, that the transformations we long to see in this world are most likely to come about when our Christians are focused not on earthly utopias, but live as sojourners to whom the hope for heaven is real, founded on the faith. we affirm in God Almighty, Creator of everything visible and invisible, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, in the communion of Saints; in forgiveness of sins and in life everlasting.
So as I welcome you on this very special day in the life of our nation, may I invite you above all to encourage us in our quest of deeper love for the Lord Jesus Christ and an unwavering dedication. to his service, that we may together bear witness to the one who alone is the Light of this world and our hope for the world to come.
Your Holiness, in the recent past as a nation we have witnessed increased activities of terrorism and radicalism, threatening peaceful coexistence and integration within and across faiths and communities in Kenya. As faith leaders representing our members we have endeavoured to promote a peaceful coexistence. In your messages you have been reminding all people of goodwill that Peace is essential for the life in abundance which the Gospel proclaims. We shall continue to cooperate and collaborate as faith leaders in promotion of Peace and national cohesion.
Your Holiness, I would also like to mention that as faith leaders of our respective denominations we strive to practice interdependence instead of unhealthy competition in provision of spiritual leadership to our congregations. I laud the cordial existence between most denominations in Kenya. Our hope and prayer is that this interdependence and collaboration will be sustained.
Your Holiness, during the past decade Kenya and several other African nations have made great economic progress, through responsible management of our natural and human resources with which God has endowed us. However, the gap between the rich and poor is worrying and needs to be narrowed with deliberate emphasis on compassionate, equitable distribution of resources.
Your Holiness, as I conclude, allow me to appeal that through your efforts and those of other leaders, there is great necessity for African nations to be assisted to unlock their potential through improvement of their economic and managerial capacity. Africa as a continent is endowed with many resources, which ought to be effectively managed for the benefit of her people.
A fitting conclusion to my welcome, Your Holiness, is a paragraph in your recent Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ , which resonates with my own concern: “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good. When the foundations of social life are corroded, what ensues are battles over conflicting interests, new forms of violence and brutality, and obstacles to the growth of a genuine culture of care for the environment.
Your Holiness, I have reason to believe, and hope that the future is bright for Africa's nations and peoples, because God is with us in our endeavour to enjoy Life in Abundance as promised by Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
Prof. Abdulghafur H. S. El –Busaidy, President of the National Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM)
Your Holiness Pope Francis, Distinguished Guests, Acclaimed Ladies and Gentlemen,
I salute you all in the Islamic spirit, Assallaaam Allaykum, simply meaning peace be upon you.
I lack the right words to express my sincere gratitude, my emotions and my deep appreciation for the honor to speak before a revolutionary minded man of God, with exceptional commitment and dedicated to serve humanity.
Your Holiness, allow me to begin by giving you a brief profile of Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), the umbrella body of all the Muslim Organizations, Societies, Mosques Committees and Groups in Kenya. It was founded in May 1973 with a clear vision of uniting the Muslim community in Kenya.
The Muslims constitute about 30% of the total population of Kenya, estimated to be over 40 million (forty million). Muslims in Kenya as in any part of the world strive to respond to the social concerns of the people. To achieve this noble mandate, SUPKEM works closely with the Government of Kenya and partners to offer humanitarian interventions.
SUPKEM owns and runs schools, Mosques, madrasas and other property. It has a competent management board headed by renowned and highly qualified persons and democratically elected national officials. The organization runs a functional secretariat located in Nairobi with grassroots networks in all the forty-seven counties, hence a vibrant local and county presence throughout Kenya
Your Holiness, the world is at a crossroads as power is increasingly assuming centrality in the society. As Religious leaders, we have a duty to promote justice, rightfulness, love, truthfulness, faithfulness and hopefulness. At the same time we must say NO to impunity, injustice, hatred, greed, malice, deceitfulness, blackmail, treachery, deaths and destruction. It would be a tragedy of very vast proportion for the good people of the world to stand aloof and watch the world hurtle down to oblivion.
As People of one God and of this world we must stand up and in unison, clasp hands together in all the things that are essential for our collective progress as one humanity, one world irrespective of location, culture, language, race, ethnicity, status, politics and etcetera. For we are all citizens of the same world!
Our world today is characterized by reckless wars mired in greed, malice, treachery, self centeredness, blackmail and we are increasingly treated to the very theatre of the most absurd. Today, we are caught in the mire of politics without principle, business without morality, wealth without work, education without character, science without humanity, enjoyment without conscience, religion without spirituality and professionalism without professional responsibility in which case people are preoccupied with making money even at the very peril of others. We cannot certainly continue in this direction!
Islam implores us “O believers, be securers of justice, witness for God. Let not detestation for a people move you to deviate from justice” Quran, Surah 5:8
SUPKEM believes in the unity of the faith community in grappling with modern day challenges facing humanity today and over the years, SUPKEM has championed interfaith dialogue in establishing a common ground for peaceful coexistence and principled dialogue on matters of mutual concern.
As SUPKEM we welcome your recent breakthrough document on the care of our common home (Laudato SI). Earth is our common home and no one should feel indifferent. We are proud to tell you your Holiness that SUPKEM has also joined hands with other faith communities like the Catholic Church, other Christian Denominations, and other faiths hosted in Kenya to establishing an Environmental interfaith network to foster peace, cohesion and coexistence through environmental stewardship (Kenya Interfaith Network of Action on Environment - KINAE) in partnership with Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC). The initiative works towards environmental restoration and conservation. The spirit of this network is that we may differ in doctrines but not on the mandate to care for the earth. Currently SUPKEM holds the position of secretary general in the initiative. There are many more issues that we must grapple with if we are to rescue this planet from our greed. Thanks for taking the courage.
Crossing the parochial divides whatever that divide may seem is the first step in the process of learning how to manage diversity. It is a quality that the current generation may find indispensable if we are truly to surmount current woes and associated challenges. Quoting the globally acclaimed German Philosopher, Hans Kung; “No Peace among the nations without peace among religions. No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions. No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards (common principles). No survival of our globe without a global ethic.”
I ask you to reflect on these issues in building a global society of effective interfaith institutions. We must work together to build effective institutions and put party politics behind us. And continue to work hard -- even intensify our efforts -- to resolve the most difficult issue before us today.
Your Holiness, honorable guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you once again for listening to me. There is so much to talk about but for the few minutes offered to me today, allow me to stop there. I wish you success in achieving the vision of a better world you have accepted for yourselves and for future generations!
Welcome to Kenya.
Best wishes always.