On his first visit to the continent, the Pope visited Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic, and Morocco.
Pope Francis’ week-long visit in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius is aimed at rekindling hope and cementing peace among people in these countries.
The Pope is following in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II who also visited the three countries in 1988 and 1989.
Today Pope Francis starts his 3-state visit in Mozambique before heading to Madagascar and ending in Mauritius on 10 September.
In Mozambique, Pope Francis’s logo for visiting the country is “Hope, Peace, and Reconciliation”, as the country is still recovering from the devastating effects of two Cyclones; Idai and Kenneth that hit them early this year. The two storms caused significant damage to property and loss of lives.
The pontiff is expected to offer words of comfort to the people especially those who lost their loved ones and property.
Mozambique as a country has been battling with the effect of the post-independence armed conflict between the government under the ruling Frelimo party and the opposition, Renamo.
The two parties recently signed a comprehensive peace agreement in August 2019 to end the conflict. It is now the third time such an agreement has been signed though the prospects for lasting peace are a bit brighter this time around. Pope Francis is expected to add his word to cement the lasting peace that the country has been longing for over the past decades.
Mozambique is still one of the poorest countries on the continent despite the recent discovery of large quantities of gas fields off its coast in 2011.
From Mozambique, Pope Francis will head to Madagascar, another country that has faced a long period of political instability and violence including cases disputed elections that have caused big damages including loss of lives.
Despite possessing a lucrative tourism industry, rich natural resources and having large scale vanilla production, Madagascar is still among the poorest counties in the world.
The big island nation off the Southeast Coast of Africa, Madagascar gained her independence in 1960 from France but constant political instability and poor governance have significantly hindered the country’s economic development.
In addition to sowing peace and hope, Pope Francis is expected to add his voice to the church in Madagascar for the poor and marginalized while calling for a non-partisan socio-economic welfare.
Catholics in Madagascar are known for their resilient faith and steadfast loyalty to the Church following the example of Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo who is remembered for working tirelessly to keep the catholic faith alive when missionaries were expelled from the island in 1883. Due to this, she is taken as a national hero and an enduring catholic symbol for the nation.
Pope Francis will conclude his continental visit in Mauritius where he will spend a day in the capital Port Louis before returning to Madagascar for his return journey to Rome on 10 September.
Located off the Southeast coast of Africa, Mauritius is a small multiethnic country with a population of about 1.3 million people. There is significant religious diversity in the population of Mauritius which is composed of Hindus accounting for 49%, Catholics 28%, and Muslims 17.5%.
Due to this significant religious diversity in the country, there have been occasional fault-lines that cause tensions among the communities.
These tensions led to the formation of an inter-religious council known as the Council of Religions acting as a local organization fostering mutual understanding to promote interfaith collaboration to bridge the gap among faith communities. The Council is composed of representatives from 18 different faiths.
Pope Francis’s visit to the highland will hopefully bring more cohesion among these religious groups and leave the people of Mauritius more united than ever before.
Unlike Mozambique and Madagascar, the two other nations on Pope’s visitation list, Mauritius is considered as an upper-middle-income economy after undergoing a remarkable economic transformation over the years.
The State has worked in collaboration with the Diocese of Port Louis to organize the Pope’s visit to the Island.