Pope Francis at the Zimpeto Hospital

Pope Francis: “we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us”

The Apostolic Visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius has come to an end. From charity to politics, an invitation for us to open ourselves to the other, who comes from Christ. A brief compilation of the Pontiff’s speeches.

Visit to the Zimpeto hospital
Maputo (Mozambique), 6 September
[…] The poor do not need intermediaries, but the personal involvement of all those who hear their cry. The concern of believers in their regard cannot be limited to a kind of assistance – as useful and as providential as this may be in the beginning – but requires a loving attentiveness that honours the person as such and seeks out his or her best interests”. Hearing this cry has made you realize that medical treatment, however necessary, is not enough. So you deal with the problem in its entirety, restoring dignity to women and children, and helping to point them towards a better future.

In this immense enterprise, thanks to your continual “listening” you too have come to experience your limitations and overall lack of means. The programme that you have set in place, which connects you with other places in the world, is an example both of humility, in recognition of your limits, and of creativity, since you are now part of a larger network. The free and voluntary commitment of so many persons in different fields, who have generously cooperated to train local operators, has enormous human and evangelical value.

[…] the approximately 100,000 children who can write a new page of history free of HIV-AIDS, and all those nameless persons who today smile because they have been cured with dignity in their dignity, are part of the payment that the Lord has left with you. Having emerged from the nightmare of suffering, and without concealing their condition, they are now a sign of hope for many persons. Their willingness to dream can serve as an inspiration to many people lying on the wayside who need a welcoming hand. For your part, you will be repaid by the Lord “when he returns”, and this should fill you with joy. As we leave this place, as you return to your daily tasks, where no one praises or applauds you, keep receiving those who come to you, go out and look for the wounded and helpless in the peripheries… Let us not forget that their names are written in heaven with the inscription: “These are the blessed of my Father”. Renew your efforts to ensure that this hospital will always be a place that gives birth to hope. Here hope is born.
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Pope Francis with Father Pedro Opeka at the City of Friendship

Homily from the Holy Mass celebrated at the Soamandrakizay diocesan field
Antananarivo (Madagascar), 8 September
[…] the Lord wants to prepare his disciples for the celebration of the coming of the kingdom of God, and to free them from the grave obstacle that, in the end, is one of the worst forms of enslavement: living only for oneself. It is the temptation to fall back into our little universe, and it ends up leaving little room for other people. The poor no longer enter in, we no longer hear the voice of God, we no longer enjoy the quiet joy of his love, we are no longer eager to do good… Many people, by shutting themselves up in this way, can feel “apparently” secure, yet they end up becoming bitter, querulous and lifeless. This is no way to live a full and dignified life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit that has its source in the heart of the risen Christ […]. As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need! This is not part of God’s plan. How urgently Jesus calls us to die to our self-centredness, our individualism and our pride! In this way, we can allow the spirit of fraternity to triumph – a spirit born from the pierced side of Jesus Christ, in which we are born as God’s family – and in which everyone can feel loved because understood, accepted and appreciated in his or her dignity. “In the face of contempt for human dignity, we often remain with arms folded or stretched out as a sign of our frustration before the grim power of evil. Yet we Christians cannot stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No. As believers, we must stretch out our hands, as Jesus does with us”
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Meeting with the authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps
Port Louis (Mauritius), 8 September
[…] Thanks to this brief visit, I have the pleasure of encountering your people, known not only for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, but above all for the beauty born of the ability to acknowledge, respect and harmonize existing differences in view of a common project. This sums up the history of your people, born of the arrival of migrants from different horizons and continents who brought their own traditions, cultures and religions, and gradually learned to be enriched by the difference of others and to find ways of living together and striving to build a society committed to the common good.

In this regard, you possess an authoritative voice, one that has taken on life. A voice that can remind us that it is possible to achieve lasting peace when we start with the conviction that “diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a ‘reconciled diversity’” (Evangelii Gaudium, 230). This in turn serves as a foundation for the opportunity to build true fellowship within the greater human family, without feeling the need to marginalize, exclude or reject anyone.

Your people’s DNA preserves the memory of those movements of migration that brought your ancestors to this island and led them to be open to differences, to integrate them and to promote them for the benefit of all. For this reason, 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. Make an effort to welcome them, following the example of your ancestors, who welcomed one another. Be protagonists and defenders of a true culture of encounter that enables migrants (and everyone) to be respected in their dignity and their rights.
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Click here to read all the speeches given during this Apostolic Visit