Pope Francis was met by thousands of excited Mozambicans on Wednesday evening, including President Filipe Nyusi, as he began his first papal visit to the southern African country. The pontiff says he brings a message of peace to the war-ravaged nation.
The pope landed Wednesday night at Maputo’s airport to a jubilant crowd. Many women wore capulanas — traditional Mozambican cloth — printed with colorful images of the Pope.
On his three-day visit, the pope will meet with lawmakers, youth and clergy, giving three speeches Thursday before leading a mass Friday.
After Mozambique, Francis will continue to the island nations of Madagascar and Mauritius.
The logo for the visit to Mozambique is, “Hope, Peace, and Reconciliation.” Madagascar sees Pope Francis as a “Sower of Peace and Hope”, while Mauritius says Pope Francis is coming to their country as a “Pilgrim of Peace.”
The Pope is visiting at the invitation of the local Churches and the three respective governments. During the visits, the Holy Father will hold public outdoor Masses, engage in interreligious dialogue, meet young people, and speak to the country’s political leaders.
Overall, papal visits are of a pastoral nature. In this regard, Pope Francis will have meetings with Bishops, priests and the religious. As on most trips, he is scheduled to meet, in private, with members of his Jesuit order.