Maputo (Agenzia Fides) - "The violence, loss of life and the reality of displaced persons currently unfolding in the Province of Cabo Delgado in the North of Mozambique concerns us deeply", say the Members of the Standing Committee of IMBISA (Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa, which brings together the Bishops of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Africa and Zimbabwe) in a message of solidarity to the faithful of the region, shocked by the COVID-19 emergency and specifically of Cabo Delgado due to the violence of the jihdists of the "Central African Province of the Islamic State" (ISCAP, see Fides, 17/8/2020).
The people live in fear, not just of COVID-19, but the violence that is frequently visited upon them", says the message sent to Fides, signed by His Exc. Mgr. Lucio Andrice Muandula, Bishop of Xai-Xai, President of IMBISA and published at the end of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the organization.
"We also wish, following the good example of Pope Francis, to express our closeness and support to Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Pemba Diocese, Mozambique, and the people of Cabo Delgado. We invite you to pray that efforts for peace may yield the desired fruits in that beautiful land. Recalling the motto of last year’s Papal visit to Mozambique, "Hope, Reconciliation and Peace", we request you to pray unceasingly that peace may become a reality in Cabo Delgado Province. Signs of hope in this direction are already present, which is most encouraging, as witnessed by the meeting of President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Bishop Luiz", the message states, referring to the meeting of 31 August between the Mozambican Head of State and His Exc. Mgr. Luis Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. The meeting made it possible to overcome a difficult two-week phase of increasing tension between the Church and the State.
The pandemic has disrupted the social and economic life of the IMBISA member countries. "The novel COVID-19 pandemic has caused deep spiritual, social, psychological, economic and medical damage to many of our people", underline the Bishops. "Eucharistic celebrations have had to be cancelled or at least attended by a few, catechism lessons suspended, attendance at funerals limited and a reduced physical contact between the Church’s ministers and the faithful. The protocols concerning COVID-19 have meant that many schools, places of work and other facilities for the development of persons have remained closed". "This has affected the mental health of many people and has increased the incidence of many forms of domestic violence. The disruption to economic activity has caused loss of livelihoods which in turn may lead to loss of lives caused by hunger and other social problems. All the countries in IMBISA, already struggling economically, remain with very poor medical infrastructure".
The message concludes by renewing the invitation to pray for the end of the pandemic and asking governments to avoid the temptation of corruption and instead give the necessary assistance to populations in difficulty. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/9/2020)