Antananarivo (Agenzia Fides) - "Pope Francis is awaited with joy by all the Malagasy", says to Agenzia Fides Jean Hervé Rakotozanany, journalist and former editor-in-chief of Radio Don Bosco, Madagascar's most important Catholic radio station. "The preparations for the visit began immediately after the Pope's announcement in our Country", says Rakotozanany. "Everything is ready to welcome Pope Francis, who arrives tonight at Antananarivo airport, and especially for the big event on Sunday 8 September, with a Mass where at least 900,000 people are expected to attend".
"In general, apart from a few isolated dissidents, the arrival of Pope Francis is well regarded by the Malagasy of any faith, because it brings hope. He is seen as a wise grandfather who has words of comfort and hope", reports Rakotozanany.
"Compared to the visit of St. John Paul II 30 years ago, the political climate seems to be more peaceful", he adds. "At the time we were still in a single party regime and the Pope's visit allowed the opposition to organize demonstrations to gain international visibility. This year, on the other hand, the opposition also makes its contribution so that all the Malagasy welcome Pope Francis in the best way", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2019)