Maputo (Fides Service) – With a symposium on 17 October, a special mass of Thanksgiving on 19 October, and the assembly of the Bishops’ Conference 21-24 October the Catholic Church in Mozambique will mark two major anniversaries: the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul II to the see of Peter and the 15th anniversary of the Pope’s visit to Mozambique in 1988. The standing council of the Bishops Conference has issued a statement addressed to Catholics recalling the importance of these celebrations “not only at the universal level but for our local Church in particular”. The Bishops give various reasons for celebrating worthily the 25 years of Pontificate for John Paul II since Mozambique has always been in the heart of the Pope in these years: “He launched to the universal Church and to the world many appeals for peace in Mozambique in the midst of civil war. He came to visit us from the 16 to 19 September 1988 offering the people and authorities messages of peace and hope, exhorting the Bishops to work harder to restore peace among the people of Mozambique”.
The Bishops recall that the Pope followed peace talks between the government and RENAMO in Rome, and the message he addressed to all Mozambicans when the peace agreement was finally reached. On the occasion of disastrous floods in 2000 the Pope sent his representative with material aid and a message of spiritual comfort. The Bishops say they hope the authorities will remember with an indelible mark the passing in this country of a man of God such as John Paul II. “For our part we intend to name our new Conference Offices, under construction after John Paul II” the bishops write and they encourage Catholics and all people of good will to take part with fervour in the preparation and the celebration of these recurrences and they conclude: "May the Pope live many more years at the service of the Church and the world!» SL (Fides Service 8/9/2003 EM lines 24 Words: 352)