By Francesca Merlo
“It was not possible for the Holy father to visit Mozambique in 2018,” says Fr Bernardo Suate.
The Bishops of Mozambique had requested the Holy Father visit them that year to mark 30 years since Pope Saint John Paul II visited the country. “But”, continues Fr Suate, “one year later" - so, 31 years later - "Pope Francis will now be arriving in Mozambique.”
“I think there are many reasons why the Holy Father is visiting Mozambique”, he says. “We, as Mozambicans, think that the Holy Father loves the Mozambicans.” As Pope, he has a “specific ministry, he is the point of unity in the Catholic Church.”
His visit will be, above all, an “important moment for us to really feel united with and in communion with the Catholic Church across the world.”
To strengthen and console
But, continues Fr Suate, the Holy Father also comes in order to “strengthen our faith", our hope, our love for each other and to “console us” in our challenges and difficulties.
Fr Suate recalls Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which recently devastated parts of the country. “Along with that”, he says, some northern provinces are still suffering from terror attacks. There, he says, “people are dying; their villages are being burnt”.
Despite all these challenges, he says, “we are a joyful Church and a very joyful society.” Pope Francis’ presence will help us to overcome these situations and, hopefully, help us build a peaceful, trustworthy and rejoicing country.
A Pope for hope
In fact, says Fr Suate, the logo of Pope Francis’ trip to Mozambique represents “hope, reconciliation and peace”. He said they are hopeful that his arrival will create new opportunities for “fresh peace in the country”.
“When Pope Saint John Paul II came to Mozambique in 1988, we were facing a terrible moment of civil war”, says Fr Suate. His coming marked the beginning of a “conversation for peace” and four years after his visit, in 1992, the Rome Peace Agreement was signed.
A Pope for Peace
Unfortunately, he continues, this peace was broken, and another peace treaty was signed in 2014. Then, “once again”, said Fr Suate, peace was broken, and “it was necessary to sign another peace agreement just at the beginning of August this year – the third peace treaty”.
Fr Suate says that everyone is speaking of Pope Francis’ visit and that the reason for this is that “everyone expects that he will consolidate a peace process”, something that “Mozambique needs most these days”.
Young people for a beautiful Mozambique
Excitement is high in Mozambique, says Fr Suate: “the Catholic Church, the other churches, the youth, the government…”
The Pope believes a lot in the future of young people, and young people in Mozambique make up a high percentage of the population. “This, too, gives us hope” he says. They are willing “to fight... to build a peaceful society”.
Fr Suate looks ahead to the Holy Father’s meeting with the youth where, he says, “he will tell them that they are not only the Mozambicans of tomorrow, but the Mozambicans of today”.
Finally, Fr Suate says he believes Pope Francis will ask the youth to “try to give people the country that they deserve” even if they have not found it so far.. the country that everyone wants,” he continues, ”our beautiful Mozambique.”