From September 4-10th, Pope Francis traveled to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius to encourage African people to live by the Gospel. Africa has become and will continue to be one of the pillars of the Catholic church. According to The Washington Post, “Africa has the fastest-growing Catholic population on the planet, which is projected to reach nearly 350 million by 2050”. In the midst of the vast amount of influence, Pope Francis took advantage of this opportunity to connect with African Catholics by proclaiming a message of faith and societal transformation. He spoke about vital issues such as protecting the environment, combating corruption, compassion for the poor, reconciliation, and promoting religious freedom.
In Madagascar, Pope Francis lamented the loss of its rich biodiversity to deforestation which profits to a few. In Mozambique he challenged the county to address the paradox of being blessed with abundant natural and cultural wealth, but most of the population live in poverty.
Pope Francis “urged an estimated 60,000 Mozambicans to continue on the path of post-civil war reconciliation.” According to The Straits Times, “he warned that progress in peace was not a given and that there were fears that ‘past wounds will reopen and reverse the progress already made toward peace’, as in Cabo Delgado”.
In Mauritius, Pope Francis called on the people of God to have a strong sense of hospitality toward arriving migrants. In fact, he encouraged Mauritians “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”.
To those from outside who seek to build relationships with Africa, Pope Francis said: “We must invest in Africa, but invest in an orderly way and create employment, not go there to exploit it”
Overall, the suffering of the people in these African countries calls for a social transformation which includes, among other things, accountability because impunity is one of the causes of their hardship. The African Church has an important role to play to bring about this transformation.