Pope Francis Denounces Injustices in Kenyan Slum

A historic speech.

During his first papal visit to Africa, Pope Francis condemned the living conditions of Kangemi, a slum that he toured on Friday. His public appearance at the slum was part of his visit to spread a message of tolerance in Kenya.

"How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?" Pope Francis said during his remarks in Kangemi, according to The New York Times. He also referred to the slums in Africa as "wounds" inflicted by the elite.

Residents of Kangemi greeted Pope Francis with cheer and celebration when he arrived in his popemobile on Friday. Before he spoke to the large crowd in Kangemi, he heard stories from the poor people and watched a two-minute video that showed children in the village plodding through waste-deep rivers of garbage.

Kangemi is one of two hundred slums located on the outskirts of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Many of the slums lack basic services like water, sanitation, toilets, electricity, roads, parks, schools or hospitals. Over 150,000 people are crammed into small houses in Kangemi.

"Our world has a grave social debt toward the poor who lack access to drinking water because they are denied a life consistent with their inalienable dignity," the Pope said, according to CNN. He also referred to the living conditions in the slum as a "dreadful injustice of social exclusion."

Sister Mari Killeen, who works with the poor in Kangemi, greeted the Pope during his visit to the slum.

"Your visit gives us courage. By coming here, you shine a light on the challenges. Your meeting with us gives us dignity," Sister Killeen said, according to CNN. "Sometimes challenges in slums almost cause us to despair and some people give up working in slums."

According to The New York Times, Pope Francis referred to the slums as "new forms of colonialism" and he said, "We need integrated cities which belong to everyone."

After leaving the slum, Pope Francis attended a rally at a stadium in Kenya and spoke about the problems of corruption.

"Corruption is something that eats inside, it's like sugar, it's sweet, we like it, it's easy," Francis said, according to the New York Times. "Don't develop that taste.

(H/T: New York Times)

Cover image via Shutterstock