President Uhuru Kenyatta kicked off his official visit to the State of the Vatican City on Friday with a meeting with his host His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican Palace.
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, the global head of the Catholic Church and the sovereign of the independent Vatican City State.
Upon his arrival at the official Papal residence shortly after 10am Central European Time, President Kenyatta was accorded a full Apostolic Palace State reception including a guard of honour mounted by the Swiss Guards.
Pontifical Swiss Guards are 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 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.
Cardinal Bishop Parolin is the current Secretary of State of the Holy See and runs the Secretariat of State and Diplomatic Service of the Vatican City State.
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 percent of 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 the country.
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 roll out of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) program.