Pope Francis celebrates Holy Mass at the Mary Queen of Peace Monument in Port Louis, Mauritius. In his homily he describes the Beatitudes as “a Christian’s identity card.”
Around 100,000 people attended the Pope’s Mass in Port Louis. That’s roughly 10% of the entire population of Mauritius.
The Mass was celebrated at the Monument of Our Lady, on the slopes of a mountain overlooking the city. This is where Pope St John Paul II celebrated Mass when he visited the island nation in 1989. In a deeply symbolic gesture of continuity, Pope Francis chose to use the same crozier carried here by his predecessor 30 years ago.
The Beatitudes were at the heart of the Pope’s homily. They are like “a Christian’s identity card,” he said. “If anyone asks: ‘What must one do to be a good Christian?’ the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.”
In the Beatitudes, continued Pope Francis, “we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.”
The Pope then turned his attention specifically to young people. Unemployment “creates uncertainty about the future,” he said, and this “makes them feel that they are on the margins of society; it leaves them vulnerable and helpless before new forms of slavery in this twenty-first century.”
Pope Francis identified young people as “our foremost mission.” We must not speak to them “in an aloof or distant way,” he said, but “learn their language, listen to their stories, spend time with them, and make them feel that they too are blessed by God.”
“Only joyful Christians” awaken in others the desire to follow the path of Christ’s call to be “blessed,” continued the Pope. The word “blessed” means “happy,” he said. “It becomes a synonym for ‘holy,’ because it expresses the fact that those who are faithful to God and His word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily at the Mass in Port Louis, confirming that “when young people see the project of a Christian life being carried out with joy, this excites and encourages them.”
They too want to “climb this Mount of the Beatitudes,” said the Pope, they too want to “meet the gaze of Jesus and learn from Him the path to true joy.”
Following Mass, Pope Francis greeted the authorities, representatives of civil society, and diplomatic corps of Mauritius, and urged them to welcome migrants and to extend economic well-being to all young people.
At the last event of his one-day Apostolic Journey to Mauritius on Monday, Pope Francis launched an appeal to the nation’s politicians and civil servants for a better distribution of economic prosperity to all sectors of society. He especially mentioned young people.
The Pope pointed out the disparity, while praising the country’s steady economic development since independence in 1968. “It appears that economic growth does not always profit everyone,” he said, “and even sets aside – by certain of its mechanisms and processes – a certain number of people, particularly the young.”
So he urged Mauritius’ political leaders to promote an economic policy “focused on people”, one that favours “a better division of income, the creation of jobs, and integral promotion of the poor.”
The alternative, he noted, would be to “yield to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of speculation and profit alone”.
He said the island nation’s culture is the result of successive waves of migration, making it particularly diverse. Around 48% of the country’s population of 1.26 million is Hindu, 33% Christian – of which 26% is Catholic – and 17% Muslim.
“For this reason,” said the Pope, “I encourage you, in fidelity to your roots, to take up the challenge of welcoming and protecting those migrants who today come looking for work and, for many of them, better conditions of life for their families.”
He called on Mauritians to be “protagonists and defenders of a true culture of encounter that enables migrants – and everyone – to be respected in their dignity and their rights.”
Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Anglican Bishop of Mauritius and former Primate of the Anglican Church of the Indian Ocean, is overjoyed to be able to be amongst those welcoming Pope Francis in his Apostolic Visit to Mauritius.
But while preparing for his new responsibility, he has been working closely with his Catholic counterpart, the Bishop of Port Louis, Cardinal Maurice Piat, and he is amongst those welcoming the Pope to their beautiful island.
He told Vatican Radio’s Xavier Sartre that the Pope’s visit is a blessing and that Pope Francis is universally seen in Mauritius as a model.
In a nation that is multi-cultural and multi-religious, he says, the Pope’s message transcends everyone and he comes as a pilgrim of peace.
Also, he says, Cardinal Piat and he have personally collaborated in addressing many important issues, for example writing joint statements on environmental and social issues. He notes they have also delivered joint Christmas messages for Mauritian television, as well of course, always promoted their message of closeness and collaboration.
Regarding what he would really like to ask Pope Francis, Archbishop Ernest says he would like to see “how best we can really welcome young people who are the potential for transformation.”
“We would like to see young Christians in the forefront so as to be able to give new breath and new inspiration to the Church,” Archbishop Ernest concludes.
Vatican News and Devin Watkins – Pope to Mauritius’ authorities: Promote jobs for youth, welcome migrants
Vatican News and Xavier Satre – Anglican Archbishop of Mauritius: ‘Pope’s visit a blessing’
With thanks to Vatican News.