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General Audience

General Audience

 Paul VI Audience Hall    11 September 2019

Fr. Peter Charles Crowther obl. sbso | The Presbytery, Bury Lane, Withnell, Chorley, PR6 8SD | Tel 01254 830 995 | Reg Charity: 232709


© 2019 St Joseph's Catholic Church, Withnell. All Rights Reserved.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Yesterday evening I returned from my Apostolic Journey to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. I thank God, who granted me to carry out this itinerary as pilgrim of peace and hope, and I renew the expression of my gratitude to the respective Authorities of these States, as well as to the Episcopates, who invited me and welcomed me with so much affection and care, and the Apostolic Nunzios, who worked so much for this trip.

Christ is the hope of the world, and His Gospel is the most powerful leaven of fraternity, of freedom, of justice and of peace for all peoples. With my visit, in the footsteps of holy evangelizers, I sought to bring this leaven, Jesus’ leaven, to the Mozambican, Madagascan and Mauritian populations.

In Mozambique, I went to scatter seeds of hope, peace, and reconciliation in a land that has suffered so much in the recent past, due to a long, armed conflict and that, last spring, was struck by two cyclones that caused very serious damages. The Church continues to accompany the peace process, which took a step forward also last August 1, with a new agreement between the parties. And here I would like to pause to thank Sant’Egidio Community, which worked so much, so much in this peace process.

In this connection, I encouraged the country’s Authorities, exhorting them to work together for the common good. And I encouraged the gathered young people, of different religious membership, to build the country, overcoming resignation and anxiety, and spreading social friendship and making a treasure of the traditions of the elderly. To the Bishops, to the priests and to the consecrated persons, whom I met in the Cathedral of Maputo, entitled to the Immaculate Virgin, I proposed the way of Nazareth, the way of a generous “yes” to God, in the grateful memory of His call and of their origins. A strong sign of this evangelical presence is the Hospital of Zimpeto, on the outskirts of the capital, realized by the commitment of Sant’Egidio Community. In this Hospital, I saw that the most important thing are the sick, and all work for the sick. Moreover, not all have the same religious membership. The Directress of that Hospital is a woman, researcher, a good woman, an AIDS researcher. She is Muslim, but she is the Directress and this Hospital is a Hospital made by Sant’Egidio Community, but all, all together for the people, united as brothers. My visit to Mozambique culminated in the Mass, celebrated under rain in the Stadium, but we were all happy. The songs, the religious dances . . . so much happiness. The rain didn’t matter, and the Lord Jesus’ appeal resounded there: “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27), the seed of the true revolution, that of love, which extinguishes violence and generates fraternity.

From Maputo, I went to Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar, a country rich in natural beauty and resources, but marked by so much poverty. I hoped that animated by its traditional spirit of solidarity, the Madagascan people are able to overcome the adversities and build a future of development, combining respect for the environment and social justice. As a prophetic sign in this sense, I visited the “City of Friendship” — Akamasoa, founded by a Lazzarist missionary, Father Peter Opeka: what is sought there is to unite work, dignity, care of the poorest and education for the children — all animated by the Gospel. At Akamasoa, at the granite cave, I raised to God a prayer for workers.

Then I had a meeting with the contemplative nuns of several Congregations, in the Convent of the Carmelites. In fact, without faith and prayer, a city worthy of man cannot be built. With the Bishops of the country, we renewed the commitment to be “sowers of peace and hope, taking care of the People of God, especially the poor, and of our presbyters. Together, we venerated Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo, first Madagascan raised to the altars. With young people, very numerous — there were so many young people in that vigil, so many, many –,  I lived a rich vigil of testimonies, songs, and dances.

At Antananarivo, the Sunday Eucharist was celebrated in the large “Diocesan Field”: great crowds gathered around the Lord Jesus. And, finally, at the Saint Michael Institute, I met the priests, the consecrated women and men and the seminarians of Madagascar — a meeting in the sign of praise to God.

Monday was dedicated to the visit to the Republic of Mauritius, noted tourist destiny, but that I chose as a place of integration between different ethnic groups and cultures. In fact, in the course of the two last centuries, different populations landed in that archipelago, especially from India; and, after independence, it experienced strong economic and social development. The inter-religious dialogue is strong there, and also the friendship between the leaders of the different religious Confessions, something that to us would seem strange, but they live friendship this way, which is natural. When I entered the Bishop’s residence, I found a beautiful bouquet of flowers — very beautiful; the Grand Imam sent it as a sign of fraternity.

Holy Mass in Mauritius was celebrated near the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace, in memory of Blessed Jacques-Desire Laval, called the “Apostle of Mauritanian Unity.” The Gospel and the Beatitudes are the antidote for this egoistic and discriminatory wellbeing, and it is also the leaven of true happiness, permeated with mercy, justice, and peace. I was struck by the work the Bishops do for the evangelization of the poor. Then, in the meeting with the Authorities of Mauritius, I expressed my appreciation for the commitment to harmonize the differences in a common project, and I encouraged them to carry forward, also today, the capacity of hospitality, as well as the effort to maintain and develop a democratic life.

So, I arrived yesterday evening in the Vatican. Before beginning a trip and on my return, I always go to Our Lady, Salus Populi Romani, so that She accompanies me on the trip as Mother, to tell me what I must do, to guard my words and my gestures. With Our Lady, I go safe.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God and ask Him that the seeds sowed on this Apostolic Journey, may bear abundant fruits for the peoples of Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. Thank you!I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Malta, Norway, Sweden, Zimbabwe, India, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Canada and the United States of America. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you!