, 24 August, 2020 / 10:29 PM
Catholic Bishops in the Southern African nation of Mozambique have, in their latest Pastoral Letter circulated August 23, recalled the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to their country last year.
In the letter dated August 20, the Bishops recall the Holy Father’s September 4-6 2019 visit that took place under the theme, “Hope, Peace, and Reconciliation.”
They highlight the “joy and gratitude that the Mozambican Church still attaches to the historic visit,” which they note came months after Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth had devastated the country.
Cyclone Idai hit the country on March 14, 2019, while Cyclone Kenneth struck a few weeks later on April 25. Both storms caused extensive flash floods that resulted in displacement of people, loss of lives as well as massive destruction of property and crops.
In the letter addressed to the faithful and people of goodwill, the Prelates express their gratitude to Pope Francis for his continued solidarity and prayers for the people affected by the ongoing jihadist crisis in Cabo Delgado Province, which is within the Catholic Diocese of Pemba.
They also acknowledge the Holy Father’s mention and prayer over the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado, northern of the country, during the Urbi et Orbi blessing on Easter Sunday, April 12.
Further, the members Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM) applaud Pope Francis’ comforting call to the Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa on August 19 in which the Holy Father expressed his closeness to the Bishop and the people of God under his care amid the crisis.
After Angelus prayer on Sunday, August 23, at St. Peter’s Square, Vatican, Pope Francis emphasized his closeness to the people of Cabo Delgado “who are suffering because of international terrorism. I do so with the vivid recollection of my visit to that country about a year ago.”
“Hope, Peace and Reconciliation was the motto of the Apostolic Visit. More than ever before, these words must serve as a true program of action, leading us to accept challenges and applying the words to the current context,” the Bishops challenge the faithful in their Pastoral Letter signed by the Vice President of CEM, Archbishop Inácio Saúre.
In their collective letter titled “Hope, Peace, and Reconciliation,” the Bishops in Mozambique further recall, “Pope Francis left us with stimulating words of encouragement, and guidance for the prevailing national situation which is marked above all by the absence of an effective peace.”
In building genuine peace, the Bishops say, “collaboration and optimism are required from all citizens and all living forces. A challenge that must be embraced by everyone with courage and faith.”
“It is necessary to end the violence and, with transparency, to carry out the process of Demobilization, Disarmament and the Reintegration of the (military) men of Renamo, of Decentralization of power, sincere dialogue and the participation of all political and civil actors.”
The theme of the Holy Father’s apostolic visit - “Hope, Peace and Reconciliation” - the Prelates further note, “demands a continued and renewed commitment to its realization.”
“Nobody can rest until Mozambique has achieved an authentic and effective peace,” the members of CEM say.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa