Social Elites Slammed on Pope Francis' Kenya Visit

Chris Lake

Pope Francis' Kenya visit concluded Friday with a visit to Kangemi, a poor shanty town on the outskirts of Nairobi. The visit to such a poor neighborhood echoed his earlier program, in which he has pursued a strong message of service to the poor. Kangemi was no different, and the Pope used his visit to slam the exclusion of the poor from society, laying the blame squarely on "a small minority," a clear reference to Kenya's small social elite.

Despite serious security concerns, Pope Francis went ahead with his plans to walk amongst the people in the narrow, difficult-to-police streets of the Nairobi slum. The locals had spent weeks preparing for this leg of Pope Francis' Kenya visit, using volunteer labor to clear rubbish and obstructions from the streets. The pope's arrival was greeted with an ecstatic welcome, with CNN's correspondent reporting that women lined the streets ululating while Swahili folk songs were sung by the children. Sister Mari Killeen, who works in Kangemi and other areas, expressed her appreciation of the Pontiff's egalitarian decision to include the slum on his visit schedule.

"Sometimes challenges in slums almost cause us to despair and some people give up working in slums... you shine a light on the challenges. Your meeting with us gives us dignity."
"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."

"To deny a family water... is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need."