, 01 September, 2020 / 9:21 PM
The Church in Mozambique is celebrating a week of faith and social commitment to commemorate the first anniversary of Pope Francis’s visit to the Southern African country, an official has told ACI Africa.
The leadership of the Social Department of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), which includes different social commissions, explained to ACI Africa that the week-long celebrations expected to end on Saturday, September 5 will be marked with spiritual reflections in all Dioceses of the country.
“Each Diocese has organized the best methodology or dynamics to make this material known, reflected on and prayed for,” the Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons of CEM, Sr. Marinês Biasibetti said in reference to the planned reflections to mark one year since the Holy Father visited the country.
Sr. Marinês added, “Everyone is invited to make his or her contribution not only to the reflection, but above all to commit themselves to living and promoting hope, peace and reconciliation in all areas, in different contexts.”
Organized under the theme, “Hope, Peace and Reconciliation,” the ongoing celebration follows two earlier week-long events of Faith and Social Commitment that took place in 2018 and in 2019.
It is the same theme that was chosen for the visit of Pope Francis, with contents modified to include reflections on COVID-19 experiences in the country.
CEM is implementing this year’s Faith and Social Commitment initiative in partnership with MISEREOR, the German Catholic Bishops’ entity for development corporation that has, over the years, facilitated the realization of a number of social projects in Mozambique.
The celebration “is a way of remembering and raising once again our gratitude for the presence and message of Pope Francis in Mozambique,” Sr. Marinês told ACI Africa August 30.
Pope Francis made his second Apostolic trip to sub-Saharan Africa last year, visiting Mozambique, Madagascar and the Mauritian Islands from 4 to 10 September.
This was the second time that Mozambique played host to a Pope, the first having been the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1986.
Addressing Bishops, Clergy, Seminarians, Religious men and women, the Consecrated and Catechists in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo on 5 September 2019, Pope Francis invited the people of God in the Southern African nation to avoid being part of conflicts and divisions, but instead go out of their way to visit others and to encourage dialogue and solutions.
“The Church in Mozambique is invited to be the Church of the Visitation,” Pope Francis said, adding that the Church in Mozambique “cannot be part of the problem of rivalry, disrespect and division that pits some against others, but instead a door to solutions, a space where respect, interchange and dialogue are possible.”
“You, at least the older ones among you, witnessed how division and conflict ended in war. You must always be ready to ‘visit’ to shorten distances,” like Mary did at the visitation to her cousin Elizabeth, Pope Francis said at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Archdiocese of Maputo September 5.
On the same day, the Holy Father encouraged young people of different faiths in Mozambique to not give up in the face of their country’s challenges, but to confront them with joy and hope.
“How do you make your dreams come true? How do you help to solve your country’s problems?” the Pope asked September 5, repeating questions asked him by Mozambican young people.
He continued, “My words to you are these. Do not let yourselves be robbed of joy. Keep singing and expressing yourselves in fidelity to all the goodness that you have learned from your traditions. Let no one rob you of your joy!”
The Secretary of CEM’s Episcopal Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons told ACI Africa that the social week is not exclusive to just Catholics but inclusive of all who desire it, “since the apostolic visit of Pope Francis was a blessing for all regardless of religious profession.”
“The current social political context in Mozambique invites everyone to do their best so that hope, peace and reconciliation find in every citizen a fertile ground to produce lasting results,” Sr. Marinês further said.
To guide the ongoing reflection week, materials including posters and pamphlets were produced and sent to all the Dioceses of the country through the coordinators and collaborators of the different pastoral Centres for reflection and prayer in the parishes and communities, Sr. Marinês told ACI Africa.
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