Catholic church officials and Kenyan authorities have said than an estimated 1.4 million people are expected to attend a mass officiated by Pope Francis during his visit to Kenya as part of his first African tour.
Kenya is the first stop on the pope’s three state visit of Africa which will also take in Uganda and the Central African Republic. He is scheduled to arrive on November 25 and leave on November 27, and according to presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu, during his visit the pontiff will talk about strengthening families, inter-ethnic tolerance and inclusivity.
Climate change will also be a topic of discussion when the pope meets with diplomats at the U.N. Environment Program headquarters in the Gigiri area of Nairobi, a few days before the U.N. climate change conference in Paris.
According to Bishop Alfred Rotich, the Catholic church expects its 1,000 Kenyan parishes to bring at least three buses of pilgrims for the mass on November 26 in the grounds of the University of Nairobi, which will also be attended by 9,000 priests and clergymen.
To keep the 266th pope safe during his visit, 10,000 police officers and additional 10,000 members of the National Youth Service will be used for crowd control and protection.
The heightened security follows a number of extremist attacks against Kenya from neighboring Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab which began after it sent troop to Somalia to bolster the western-backed government against the militants’ insurgency.
In nearly all of the attacks non-Muslims have been targeted and there are also reports of Christian churches being raided.