By Devin Watkins
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.
Youth unemployment in Mauritius hovered around 23% in 2018for 15-24-year-olds, according to the World Bank, while overall unemployment clocked in at less than 7%.
People focused policy
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 favors “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”.
Cultural diversity and peace
Pope Francis also praised the democratic tradition that makes Mauritius “a haven of peace.” And he encouraged politicians to be examples to their compatriots in their conduct and fight against corruption.
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.”
In fruitful dialogue
Finally, Pope Francis voiced his appreciation for the way the nation’s different religions work together towards building a harmonious society.
“And I express once more,” he concluded, “the desire of the Catholics of Mauritius to continue to participate in this fruitful dialogue that has so deeply marked the history of your people.”