MAPUTO – Pope Francis ended a visit to Mozambique on Friday with a mass denouncing corruption in the world’s poorest nations and called for reconciliation because no society should base itself on the “eye for an eye” principal.
During the mass, delivered to a 60,000-strong crowd in Zimpeto stadium on the northern outskirts of Maputo, the pope made reference to the country’s violent past and one of the greatest issues affecting some nations in Africa: corruption.
The pontiff warned that sometimes “those who appear to want to help have other interests.”
“It’s sad when this is found among brothers from the same land who are corrupted,” said the pope. “It’s very dangerous to accept this as the price we have to pay for foreign aid.”
The pope said there was still fear over the “injuries” of the past returning to wipe out the path to peace, such as in the northern Cabo Delgado province earlier in the year where armed groups launched fresh attacks.
“It’s hard to talk about reconciliation when injuries caused over so many years of disagreement are still so fresh, or the invitation towards forgiveness that doesn’t mean ignoring the pain or asking for the loss of memory or ideals,” the pope said.
Since it gained its independence from Portugal, Mozambique endured a fratricidal war that left one million dead and four million others displaced, ending with a peace deal signed in Rome in 1992, with the Catholic Church’s mediation.
“Jesus Christ invites us to love and do good, which is much more than ignoring what has hurt us or making the effort so that our lives don’t cross paths with those who hurt us,” said the pope.
The Argentine pontiff, who arrived in the African country on Wednesday, continued: “you cannot think about the future, build a nation, a society based on the ‘equity’ of violence.”
He also dismissed living “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” as “no family, no neighbors or ethnic group, less so a country, has a future if the driving force that unites, brings them together and covers their differences is vengeance and hate.”
The pope added that weapons and violence repression create new and worse conflicts, and not solutions.
“The equity of violence is always a spiral with no way out and its cost is high,” Francis warned.
On the morning, the pope visited the Zimpeto’s Dream Center in one of Maputo’s most populous and marginalized neighborhoods of the capital, which provides treatment to people with AIDS and carriers of the HIV virus.
“You have heard this silent cry, barely audible, of countless women, of so many who live with embarrassment, marginalized, judged for everything,” he said after visiting the center.
He praised such centers that “show there were those who stopped and felt compassion, who did not give in to the temptation to say there is nothing to do, it is impossible to fight this plague, and they dared to seek solutions.”
The Dream project, set up by the Community of Sant’Egidio Catholic movement, which operates in 11 African countries and has helped 200,000 children be born healthily to HIV-positive mothers.
The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms during sexual relations, a method that prevents the spread of HIV.
The mass wrapped up the pope’s visit to Mozambique and he will leave for Madagascar for the second leg of his tour before traveling onto Mauritius.