Antananarivo (Agenzia Fides) - " With the grace of God, in a few days I will be among you! I wish to extend my cordial greetings to you, along with thanks for all that you have done and are doing to prepare for my visit. Above all, I thank you for your prayers, both personal and in families, in parish communities, as well as in hospitals and prisons", says Pope Francis in a video message to the Malagasy population on the eve of his visit to the island.
From 4 to 10 September, the Pope will carry out a pastoral visit under the motto "Hope, Peace, Reconciliation" in three countries of southern Africa: in addition to Madagascar, Mozambique and Mauritius (see Fides, 27/8/2019).
The arrival of Pope Francis is awaited with trepidation on the great island of the Indian Ocean, where on May 14 Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Madagascar, had addressed to the faithful a pressing invitation to prayer and to "a good spiritual preparation".
"This is an exceptional spiritual visit because as head of the universal Church (the Pope) he will come to Madagascar to sow hope and peace", said Cardinal Tsarahazana, in his pastoral letter.
"We take advantage of this grace that the Lord offers us to correct the failures of our national life", said the President of the Bishops’ Conference underlining that "even if the churches are full of faithful, it is certain that faith is not yet well rooted. The deepening of the faith is insufficient". At a social level, Cardinal Tsarahazana emphasizes that "society is disorganized. Everyone thinks about himself. Life is expensive. Corruption is the norm. Justice has become anarchist. Murders are multiplying everywhere. Despite the considerable efforts of the security forces and the people, insecurity is not yet under control. Families are divided, while young people no longer have a model to imitate and are tempted by the desires of the world. They sink into drugs no longer respecting the values, they are no longer able to discipline themselves to work but often giving way to the easiest and most comfortable way".
Cardinal Tsarahazana therefore hopes that with his visit Pope Francis can "encourage us to" live together ", and to break the walls of separation between the different social categories.
"We accompany Pope Francis with our prayers so that he may be in good health to make this journey that will bring him to us. We entrust this exceptional apostolic visit to the Blessed Virgin and to the Saints and Blesseds of Madagascar. May this be very fruitful for us", concludes Cardinal Tsarahazana. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/9/2019)