- Catholic News Agency - Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nairobi, Kenya - Pope Francis Thursday praised Kenya’s traditional family values, particularly their respect for children and the elderly. He also made an appeal for the youth to use these values as a guide to ending discrimination and injustice in the future.

“The health of any society depends on the health of its families,” the pope told Mass attendees at Kenya’s Nairobi University Nov. 26.

“Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children,” he said, and noted that families are important in the plan of God.

It’s for the sake of our families and the good of society that children must be welcomed “as a blessing for our world,” and that the dignity of every man and woman must be defended, since we are all part of one human family, he said.

“We are also called to resist practices which foster arrogance in men, hurt or demean women, and threaten the life of the innocent unborn.”

While everyone is called to respect others and reach out to those in need, Francis said that Christian families have a special task: “to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his spirit.”

This is especially important today, he said, when the growth of materialism and indifference are “new deserts” growing in society.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the University of Nairobi on the second day of his Nov. 25-30 African tour, which includes stops in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

Before heading to the university campus, he met with Kenya’s interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature, and afterward with the country’s priests, religious and seminarians before closing the day at the office of the United Nations in Nairobi.

Francis appealed to Kenya’s youth, asking that “the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity.”

Before leaving, he offered a brief prayer for them in Swahili: “Mungu awabariki! Mungu abariki Kenya!” meaning “God bless you! God bless you Kenya!”

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