How was Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique?

Pope Francis visited Mozambique from 4 to 6 September, where he held a mass for 80,000 people in the Zimpeto National Stadium, in the capital Maputo, as well as had meetings with authorities.

The country had not received a papal visit since September 1988, when John Paul II came.

Before his arrival in Maputo, Pope Francis shared a message of reconciliation and peace for Mozambique:

In a few days’ time, my visit to your country will begin and, although I cannot travel beyond the capital, my heart reaches out to and embraces all of you, with a special place for those living in distress. Right away, I would like to leave you with this certainty: you are all in my prayers. I am eager to meet you.

Just as I have received (and I thank you!) the invitation of the president and my bishop brothers to come to you, so I extend the invitation to all of you to join my prayer so that the god and father of all may consolidate reconciliation, fraternal reconciliation in Mozambique and throughout Africa, the only hope for a firm and lasting peace.

After landing at Maputo International Airport on the night of the 4th, the pope drove through the city’s streets in the popemobile, among the crowd who were waving and taking photos and videos.

The temperature that day was of 31 degrees during the day and 27 at night.

We have talked to volunteers who helped organize the audience. One of them was called Arcenio, 21 years old, a member of one of the churches in Matola, a city near Maputo. He said:

I am here to serve the people. I was chosen in my parish to help organize the visit, and I hope it is a moment of peace and more reconciliation for Mozambique. I’m happy.

Another volunteer was Helton, 19, a member of a Catholic church in central Maputo. When asked about the visit’s impact on the election, he replied:

This visit comes to bless the peace in Mozambique, and for me there is no connection with politics. I am [here] to serve the pope, so I agreed to be here today.

Some commentators had warned that the visit, so close to the general election scheduled for 15 October, could interfere with the campaign.

Before the visit, the auxiliary bishop of Maputo Archdiocese, Antonio Juliasse, told the press that it should not be used politically:

In respecting each other, these places should not be used for political purposes. Not only verbally, but we must also be careful not to be bearers of what can divide us, regarding clothing and other materials.

The professor of economics and researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies (IESE), Antonio Francisco, thinks that the pope’s visit will be politically beneficial, especially for the party in power, FRELIMO. He wrote on Facebook:

Perhaps one day, when he writes his memoirs, my namesake will clarify why he ventured to visit Mozambique at the beginning of the 2019 election campaign. At that time, I hope he will tell us who the guardian angel was who assured him that in this Indic Parish the election results still depend more on those who count than those who vote. The next day, 5 September, we left in the morning to better position ourselves in one of the streets where he was going to be. In the first few hours, we were able to photograph the popemobile, but it was empty. We continued waiting there. The pope came almost two hours later in a standard vehicle. We tried to find out the reasons and we were told that the pope would be going to meet the president, and then he would leave in his usual means of transport for an inter-religious meeting with youths at the Maxquene stadium.

Source: Global Voices