Rejecting violence, promoting interreligious harmony and stamping out government corruption are expected to be high on the agenda when Pope Francis visits Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius next month. Source: CNS.
The Pope will visit the countries from September 4 to 10.
“The Pope’s very presence will be his principle message to the people of Mozambique,” said Fr Giorgio Ferretti, an Italian missionary and pastor of the cathedral in Maputo, Mozambique. “Just the fact of him walking these streets, meeting the people, speaking to them will be a great message of peace.”
The country has been at peace for 27 years, “but there still hasn’t been a real de-militarisation of some parts of what had been the armed opposition, so we must still pray and work for peace in this country,” Fr Ferretti said. “Then, in the north of the country, in the province of Cabo Delgado – where there are Americans, Italians and others involved in the extraction of gas – there has been disorder; it still is not clear at all whether we are dealing with Islamic fundamentalists, but there has been violence.”
When the incidents began in October 2017, many were quick to suspect Islamic fundamentalists; however, others believe the violence is more closely linked to the foreign expansion of the natural gas industry in a region where most people are very poor.
St. John Paul II’s visit to Mozambique in 1988 “laid the foundations for a commitment to peace,” Fr Ferretti said. “Now, the visit of Pope Francis can be like a final seal on that process for an effective and definitive peace in the country. This is the great hope of the Church and the people for the visit of the Pope.”
Leah Marie Lucas, director of Caritas Pemba in the capital of Cabo Delgado province, said people are struggling to recover from the devastation caused by Cyclone Kenneth in April. Pope Francis will not be visiting the areas devastated by Cyclone Idai in March or Cyclone Kenneth a few weeks later, but he is likely to remember the hundreds of Mozambicans who died in the violent storms and the thousands left homeless.
Franciscan Fr Jean-Charles Rakotondranaivo sees the Pope’s repeated condemnations of corruption and his teaching on politics as service as another essential message for the region, particularly for Madagascar.
“The inequality between a handful of rich and the poor majority is blatant. It is time to wake politicians up to focus more on the common good.”