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VAS

Avoid the sin of being lukewarm, Pope Francis advises faithful

NAIROBI
By Joy Wanja | November 27th 2015

It was a day of inescapable wetness.

And as rain drops danced on Kenyan rooftops on this Thursday morning, this did not dishearten the Catholic faithful from attending mass at the University of Nairobi grounds and later a meeting of the clergy with Pope Francis at St Mary's School.

The gathering of the clouds and closing of key roads only hastened their steps towards the grounds where the joint meeting of clerics from congregations of nuns, seminarians, priests, bishops and cardinals would be celebrated.

Droplets of moisture on the ground brought out a baked-earth smell that rose from the ground, symbolising the anticipatory mood of the faithful as they settled into the dome in their assigned positions.

And when Pope Francis made his way into the 8,000-seater dome at 3.45pm, ululations and Latin proclamations filled the air as he was escorted by cardinals, bishops and other Catholic leaders.

"Viva Papa! Viva Papa! Bon Venuto! Bon Venuto!" were uttered in Latin to mean "Long Live the Pope" and "Welcome", respectively, as he made his way to the altar via the aisle greeting worshipers.

The prayer of intercession asked God to favourably look at Kenya and save the country from corruption, discrimination, tribalism and the unjust exploitation of humans and resources.

And when the Pontiff rose to his feet to offer prayers and later gave a short speech, his key message was discipleship, citing the importance of the clergy to stay rooted to the vocation.

"The Lord has chosen you, all of us and He began the work when we were baptised," Pope Francis said in his opening remarks that were drowned in ululations.

He stressed the importance of clerics leading a consecrated life, saying this would only be achieved by staying true to the calling.

"All you have to do is follow Him to the cross," he said.

He urged them to continue serving children, the sick, abandoned and all other underprivileged in the society.

Pope Francis further said borderline faith was not acceptable and thus remaining firm was a testimony that they were called to serve humanity.

"Be careful not to fall into the sin of being lukewarm," he said, urging them to stay closer to God through prayer.

If you leave the place of prayer, your soul becomes dry and shriveled, he reiterated.

"Please remember to pray for me; I need it," Pope Francis concluded.

The Kenya Commission for Clergy and Religious Chairman Rt Reverend Anthony Ireri appreciated the support of the Vatican for the Catholic church in Kenya.

Leaders from the Catholic Church said the beatification of Blessed Sister Irene Stefani Nyaatha in Nyeri in May enabled the faithful to appreciate the spiritual journey.

"Your visit encourages us to live in the ideals you promote like taking care of the environment and the needy," Rev Ireri told the Pope.

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