Malawi should be in for some “good moment and deservedly so” when Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church visits neighbouring Mozambique in September this year, according to head of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Archbishop Thomas Msusa of Blantyre.
This follows an announcement, through Vatican News, that the Pope is scheduled to visit Maputo as part of his pilgrimage of peace.
In a press statement the Vatican released early this week, the ‘Indian Ocean tour’ will also see the Pope visiting Madagascar and Mauritius.
The statement further quotes Alessandro Gisotti, Holy See press office interim director as saying the journey is scheduled to take place from 4 to 10 September.
“Pope Francis travels to the three nations as a pilgrim of peace, hope and reconciliation; all themes that are reflected in the official logos of the journey,” reads the statement.
Reacting to the news, Archbishop Msusa, who said was yet to receive official communication, admitted being aware of the trip.
He explained that although Mozambique falls in a different administrative block of the church to Malawi’s [Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (Amecea), the fact that the two are neighbouring countries should equally excite the entire region.
“This should be exciting news not only to the Roman Catholic faithful, but to the entire nation of Malawi. In fact, I was part of the delegation in Rome, alongside the chairperson of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique, when this was first mentioned, and I’m personally glad it’s happening soon,” Msusa said.
Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique comes exactly 30 years after Pope John Paul VI, now a Saint, visited Malawi in May 1989 where in his homily; he urged the country to “treat socio-economic victims as we would treat Christ himself”.
Among others, Pope Paul VI celebrated a morning Mass for more than 100 000 people at Kwacha (Freedom) Park in Blantyre, addressed at least 60 000 youths at Kamuzu Stadium and met with the Catholic laity and representatives of other Christian faiths and religions.
In the same vein, Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique should be a welcome comfort in a country that has been ravaged by civil strife courtesy of the opposition Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), a guerrilla organisation that has been fighting subsequent governments for control over the years.
The country is also still reeling from devastating effects of Cyclone Idai that has claimed over 1 000 lives and displaced countless others. n