President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, November 6, flew out to the Vatican City for a special meeting with Pope Francis.The Head of State visited the Vatican City state at the invitation of Pope Francis is making history as the first Kenyan Head of State to visit the world’s smallest country. In an interview ahead of President Kenyatta’s arrival in Rome, Kenya’s envoy to the Vatican Prof Judi Wakhungu stated that the President’s rare audience with the Pope signified the high regard in which Pope Francis holds the Kenyan leader. President Uhuru Kenyatta during a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on November 6, 2020.PSCU
“This visit is extremely rare. The reason that it is rare is that it is not usual for the Holy Father to have an audience with just any Head of State. He values the role that our President is playing in very many aspects,” the envoy said.President Kenyatta was accorded a full Apostolic Palace State reception including a guard of honour mounted by the Swiss Guards which is an army of 135 highly trained marksmen drawn from Switzerland, and charged with the responsibility of protecting His Holiness the Pope and guarding the Apostolic Palace.The colourfully attired soldiers are all devoted Roman Catholics who form the world’s smallest army.After the formal State reception ceremonies, President Kenyatta proceeded for a private audience with Pope Francis before leading the lean Kenyan delegation that included Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo for bilateral talks with their hosts led by Cardinal Bishop Pietro Parolin.The two delegations discussed several subjects of mutual interest between Kenya and the Holy See among them education, health, regional peace and security as well as the fight against Covid-19.
The Catholic Church is one of Kenya’s foremost development partners, especially in the education and health sectors. In education, the Church runs 7,740 schools (31% all schools in the country), manages 220 vocational institutions, five colleges and a university.
In healthcare, the Catholic Church is the largest non-state provider of health services in the country with close to 500 health facilities spread across Kenya. President Uhuru Kenyatta with the Pontifical Swiss Guards at the Vatican on November 6, 2020.PSCU
The Kenyan delegation, therefore, sought the Catholic Church’s enhanced participation in Kenya’s education, training and health sectors in support of the Government’s Big 4 Agenda especially the ongoing rollout of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program.Also discussed was Kenya’s role in regional peace and security especially in South Sudan where His Holiness Pope Francis is personally involved.Over the years, Kenya has hosted four Papal visits in 1980,1985, in 1995 by His Holiness the late John Paul II and most recently in November 2015 by the current Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Francis. Pope Francis (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Vatican on November 6, 2020.PSCU President Kenyatta is a practising Roman Catholic with his uncle George Muhoho was a Catholic priest and studied Canon Law until 1968 at the Collegio San Pietro in Rome. At one time Muhoho served as the Private Secretary of Pope Paul IV and became the first black diplomat to the Vatican. Pope Francis (right) with President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Vatican on November 6, 2020.PSCU
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