As a mood of excitement characterize Mozambique’s capital ahead of Pope Francis’ return to Africa for the fourth time, the recent challenges the country has experienced seem to inform people’s expectations, ACI Africa has been told in Maputo.
“Mozambique has recently suffered two natural disasters: Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth,” a Missionary of Africa priest, Fr. Malachy Nwanalobi Oleru provided one context that is shaping people’s expectations as they await the arrival of Pope Francis.
“The cyclones devastated the place, destroyed many structures including the church buildings, convents, schools, hospitals,” Fr. Oleru explained, demonstrating how people in the affected areas of Mozambique suffered loss of property and especially lives.
Against this backdrop, the Nigerian missionary in Mozambique described the coming of the Holy Father as “a time for healing, a time for reconciliation because people could be angry with nature, people could accuse God (questioning) but why did you allow that to happen to us?”
“We can say that Mozambique is a country that is crying for their dead, mourning the loss of life and property,” Fr. Oleru who is serving in the Archdiocese of Beira, a central region of Mozambique, which was the epicenter of Cyclone Idai told ACI Africa.
In the Mozambican city of Beira, the cyclone had lasting effects considering that more than 750 people died and property worth millions of dollars was lost.
Fr. Oleru is in Maputo to be part of the religious receiving the Pontiff. He spoke to ACI Africa after presiding over Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Community, a center in Maputo where faithful from different countries congregate for Mass in English.
“Mozambique is a country where people love the Church and the Church is strong here (Mozambique),” Fr. Oleru underlined, clarifying that his expressions were based on “the question of good and evil in the world.”
“So many people have not yet digested that God who is love could allow (loss of lives and destruction of property) to happen to people due to the cyclones,” he reiterated, taking note of human limitations even in the Holy Father.
“We know that the Pope is not coming to solve all the problems,” he said and clarified, “He (Pope Francis) is coming for a particular reason: to commiserate with the people.”
“For the few days he (Pope Francis) will be here, Mozambique will be the house of all the Catholics because the Father will be here, the Nigerian Missionary of Africa concluded.
At the same venue, Sr. Henrita Bureta told ACI Africa, “The religious are very excited. We have been having prayer sessions, times of reflections geared towards the coming of the Pope.”
“Each one is busy, participating in the choir, organizing the youth in their communities and parishes, so there is a lot that is being done by the religious,” Tanzanian-born Sr. Bureta continued basing her expressions on her role as the representative of the religious in Maputo Archdiocese.
“I wish that everybody gets the Papal blessings,” Sr. Bureta who has been a missionary in Mozambique for eight years concluded.