Finishing his African trip in a nation where the clergy and government feud openly, Pope John Paul II told Kenyan leaders Monday not to sacrifice civil rights for economic progress.
The Pope cautioned against the evils of “ethnic, political and social divisions” bedeviling the nation.
“Social unity and solidarity are not easy at the best of times,” the pontiff said, standing beside President Daniel Arap Moi, who has been assailed by Kenyan bishops for corruption, alleged rights abuses and strangling political opposition since taking office in 1978.
More than 5,000 people greeted John Paul at the airport when he arrived from South Africa. A military band and native dancers were part of the largest welcoming crowd of his three-nation trip. Security forces encircled the airport and lined the highway into the city.
The Pope, who visited Kenya in 1980 and 1985, appealed for African leaders to “exercise all their wisdom.”
In a pastoral letter last year, Kenya’s bishops said the country was sliding into totalitarianism, with a clique of politicians manipulating the system for personal gain.
Moi has demanded that the clergy stay out of politics.
But the Pope, in a document issued in Cameroon at the beginning of the six-day trip, told priests to stand up to injustices.
The Pope is scheduled to lead an outdoor Mass in Nairobi today. Hundreds of people planned to spend the night in the park for a spot close to the altar. About 6 million of Kenya’s 25 million people are Roman Catholics.