Pope Francis meets with youth, religious and civil representatives on day one of Mozambique visit
Pope Francis began his first official address in Mozambique, to authorities, members of the Diplomatic Corps and representatives of civil society, by describing the country as “blessed by natural beauty and by a great cultural richness.”
His next words were of “closeness and solidarity” for all those struck by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, “whose devastating effects continue to be felt by so many families.” “Sadly, I will not be able to go personally to visit you,” said Pope Francis, “but I want you to know of my own participation in your anguish and suffering, and the commitment of the Catholic community to respond to this most difficult situation.”
But the Pope dedicated the greatest part of his discourse to what he called “the efforts made in recent decades to ensure that peace is once more the norm and reconciliation the best path to confront the difficulties and challenges that you face as a nation.”
Pope Francis was referring to the peace agreement signed just a month ago, guaranteeing a definitive cessation of military hostilities between Mozambique government forces and those of the RENAMO opposition party.
“You have experienced suffering, sorrow and affliction,” said the Pope, “but you have refused to let human relationships be governed by vengeance or repression, or to allow hatred and violence to have the final word.” Pope Francis confirmed how “the pursuit of lasting peace is a mission,” one that depends on everyone and that calls for “strenuous, constant and unremitting effort.”
Pope Francis concluded by again describing Mozambique as “a nation greatly blessed.”
“You have a special responsibility to care for this blessing,” he said. “Protection of the land is also the protection of life.” A culture of peace, the Pope told his audience, “implies a productive, sustainable and inclusive development, where all Mozambicans can feel that this land is theirs, where they can establish relations of fraternity and equity with their neighbours and all their surroundings.”
In his second address, Pope Francis addressed bishops, priests, men and women religious, seminarians and catechists in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Maputo, and explained how to find identity in change.
Pope Francis began by reminding his listeners that “whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is.” Times change, he said, “and we need to realise that often we do not know how to find our place in new scenarios.” Instead of proclaiming the Good News, the Pope continued, “we announce a dreary message that attracts no one and sets no one’s heart on fire.”
Admitting that the responsibilities and emotions associated with the priesthood “can exhaust the heart of a pastor,” Pope Francis went on to say that “renewing our vocation often entails discerning if our weariness and worries are the result of a certain spiritual worldliness.” Renewing our call, he said, “has to do with choosing to say ‘yes’, and to let our weariness come from things that bear fruit in God’s eyes.”
“Just as Mary journeyed to the house of Elizabeth,” said Pope Francis, “we too, as a Church, have to find the road to take in the face of new problems, taking care not to remain paralysed by the mindset of opposition, division and condemnation.”
The Church in Mozambique needs to be a “Church of the Visitation,” concluded the Pope, “a door to solution, a space where respect, interchange and dialogue are possible.”
In his third meeting, Pope Francis held an interreligious meeting with young people in Maputo, telling them they are “the joy of this land, the joy of our time.”
The encounter began with a series of questions: How can we young people turn our dreams into reality? How can we help solve the problems afflicting our country? How can we write a new page in the history of Mozambique?
Pope Francis surprised his young listeners by telling them they had already provided answers to their own questions when they proudly expressed themselves, at the start of the encounter, through their artistic, musical, and cultural performances. “In all of this,” said the Pope, “we see a variety of ways to bring the world together and to look to the horizon: with eyes full of hope, full of the future, full of dreams.”
Pope Francis then stressed the importance of “playing as a team.” Referring to the interreligious character of the gathering, he noted how those present “come from different traditions” and speak different languages, “but this has not stopped us,” he said, “from being here together as a group.”
The Pope responded directly to the young peoples’ question about what they can do for their country when he reminded them always to work “together.” Families and countries, he said, are destroyed by discord and enmity: “and the greatest enmity of all is war.” He quoted an old proverb that says: “If you want to get somewhere in a hurry, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk with others.”
Older generations, continued Pope Francis, “have much to tell you and offer you” because “they are our roots.” The elderly, he said, “can help your dreams and aspirations from fading and faltering at the first experience of difficulty,” which is why it is important to listen to, and to appreciate, “those who have gone before you.”
Pope Francis concluded his conversation with the young people of Mozambique by reminding them of the “simple, silent and discreet love of God” for each one of them. “Try to keep still for a moment and let yourself feel His love,” said the Pope. “Try to silence all the noise within, and rest for a second in His loving embrace.”
“I know that you believe in this love that makes reconciliation possible,” concluded the Pope. “And because you believe in this love, I am certain that you are hopeful and that you will not fail to walk joyfully in the ways of peace.”
Vatican News – Pope in Mozambique praises peace and encourages encounter
With thanks to Vatican News.