In the February 25 interview report, the Archbishop-elect who was at the helm of Pemba Diocese since his episcopal ordination in August 2013 recalls his ministry among the people of God in Mozambique saying, “I am quite sure that I have received much more than I have given.”
In Mozambique, Archbishop-elect Lisboa became the poster child of efforts to fight the insurgency that has rocked Cabo Delgado province, which fell under his pastoral care. He repeatedly denounced the violence taking place in his ecclesiastical jurisdiction and called on the international community to intervene.
He was keen to foster the interests of the people of God in Cabo Delgado, the Northernmost Province of the Southern African nation that has witnessed growing instability since October 2017 when an Islamist armed group known locally as Al-Sunna wa Jama’a (ASWJ) attacked a police station in Mocimboa da Praia district.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 670,000 people have been displaced from their homes due to the crisis and a total of 1.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection in the Mozambican Province.
“It was an extremely searing experience, an experience of the cross, an experience of suffering,” the Archbishop-elect says in the February 25 interview report, making reference to the violence that rocked his jurisdiction.
He adds, “This war has helped me to learn many lessons. The most important of them is the greatness of these people, who are poor, but have a sense of profound solidarity.”
“I witnessed many things, I heard many personal stories and saw many different situations and I realized just how much, even in poverty, we can help, we can share,” he further says.
He highlights some of manifestations of solidarity among the poor saying, “Every family which wasn’t forced to flee took in one or two, or even three refugee families into their home, on the back porch, and shared the little they had with those who had nothing at all and had been wandering, desperate and directionless.”
“So now I believe that this experience of the people of Cabo Delgado will stay with me forever,” Archbishop-elect Lisboa reiterates in the interview with the Catholic pastoral charity, which envisions a world in which Christianity can thrive everywhere.
Regarding his transfer from Mozambique to Brazil, the Archbishop-elect says in reference to Pope Francis, “I accept and I thank him for all the support that he has given us, for all the commitment he has shown and all the concern he has felt and continues to feel for Cabo Delgado, because in addition to praying for them, he wishes to go on helping these people.”