By Vatican News
Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Pemba told Vatican News about the Pope’s expression of “closeness and great love”, which came during their private audience on Friday.
The Bishop said the Pope spoke of his concern for the suffering people of Cabo Delgado, as well as for all Mozambicans.
During the 40-minute audience, Bishop Lisboa informed Pope Francis about the serious humanitarian situation underway in Mozambique’s northern region.
Violent armed clashes have blighted the area for several years.
Insurgent Islamist militias are battling government forces for control of vast deposits of natural resources.
Africa’s third-largest natural gas reserve was discovered in Cabo Delgado in 2010.
Local Mozambicans are paying the heaviest price for the conflict. At least 2,000 civilians have lost their lives in the past 3 years.
Bishop Lisboa said the number of internally-displaced people is around 600,000, with 150,000 of them in the port city of Pemba.
He also noted that Pope Francis recently sent financial support to the Diocese of Pemba, destined for those who had left their homes.
Care and concern
Speaking to Vatican News, Bishop Lisboa also recalled other examples of the Pope’s concern for the people of Cabo Delgado.
In his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis invited the world not to ignore the humanitarian crisis there.
Another poignant moment came when the Pope called Bishop Lisboa in August to express his care and closeness. On that occasion, the Bishop told the Pope, “Holy Father, you have placed Cabo Delgado on the world map!”
Pope Francis had also spoken about the region’s conflict during his Apostolic Journey to Mozambique in September 2019.
Bishop Lisboa said his words about Cabo Delgado brought the situation to the world’s attention and urged other nations to assist in ending the crisis.
Help, added the Bishop, has been flowing in from various parts of the globe.
At the end of their meeting, concluded Bishop Lisboa, Pope Francis said he continues to follow events in Cabo Delgado closely and that he prays constantly for the people who are suffering.