Mozambique Bishops express gratitude for solidarity and support from the Church in England and Wales

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The Bishops of Mozambique have responded to a letter of solidarity and support from Bishop Paul Swarbrick, Lead Bishop for Africa, who expressed his deep concern at the worsening humanitarian situation in the north of the country.

Violence in Cabo Delgado province, a coastal region in the north east of Mozambique, is truly alarming with widespread reports of killings, beheadings and kidnappings as well as high numbers of internally displaced people.

In May 2021, Bishop Swarbrick wrote to Bishop Lucio Muandula of Xai-Xai, President of Mozambique’s Catholic Bishops’ Conference, to express the prayerful support of the Church in England and Wales.

“I had the privilege of listening to Gabriele Bertani, CAFOD’s Representative in Maputo, speaking about the tragic humanitarian crisis your country is experiencing,” wrote Bishop Swarbrick.

“What he told me was very humbling. It is a consolation to know that CAFOD are present with you, committed to sustaining life, promoting positive relationships in the midst of poverty, violence and natural disasters. They are a real expression of our concern for the Church and people of your noble country, especially the many Internally Displaced Persons.”

In response, Bishop Muandula wrote:

“We would also like to thank you for your effective and affective presence among the suffering population of [Cabo Delgado] province and in particular for your generous aid and assistance to displaced persons of war, in the face of an appalling situation of abandonment and total destitution. May God reward your kindness!”

Bishop Muandula also praised CAFOD’s work in the country:

“CAFOD’s presence and work in Mozambique has been of great help for the people of our dioceses, especially for the comfort and encouragement they have received in the field of social development and fight against the causes of structural poverty in which they find themselves.”

Mozambique is highly dependent on foreign aid and two thirds of its population live below the poverty line.

Letter from Bishop Swarbrick

Your Excellency,

Fraternal greetings to you and the Conference of Bishops of Mozambique, in these days of the Risen and Ascended Lord.

I write to extend to you the prayerful support of the Church in England and Wales, and express our solidarity with you in your current circumstances of profound distress.

I recently had the privilege of listening to Gabriele Bertani, CAFOD’s Representative in Maputo, speaking about the tragic humanitarian crisis your country is experiencing. What he told me was very humbling. It is a consolation to know that CAFOD are present with you, committed to sustaining life, promoting positive relationships in the midst of poverty, violence and natural disasters. They are a real expression of our concern for the Church and people of your noble country, especially the many Internally Displaced Persons.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, carries you close to his heart, and so do we, but in the face of such a complex tragedy it is humanly difficult to find hope. As we approach the time of Pentecost may you be re-enlivened with the Gift of the Holy Spirit. ‘Send forth Your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth!’

When the sheer number of people suffering overwhelms us, the Lord can touch our hearts through the life of just one person. I see encouragement in the forthcoming Canonisation of Blessed Charles de Foucauld. He knew Africa, and he knew the tensions that can affect the lives of innocent people. But he also knew the mercy and power of God! May his example and his prayers help bring closer those in your country who at present cannot sit down together in peace.

With my heartfelt prayers,

Bishop Paul Swarbrick
Bishop of Lancaster
Lead Bishop for Africa
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Letter from Bishop Muandula

Reverend Excellency,

In my personal name, and the names of my brother Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), I thank you for your kind letter from 11 May 2021, in which you assure us of the proximity of the Church in England and Wales, at this time of hard ordeal for our country, caused by the war in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

We would also like to thank you for your effective and affective presence among the suffering population of that province and in particular for your generous aid and assistance to displaced persons of war, in the face of an appalling situation of abandonment and total destitution. May God reward your kindness!

In fact, CAFOD’s presence and work in Mozambique has been one of great help for the people of our dioceses, especially for the comfort and encouragement they have received in the field of social development and fight against the causes of structural poverty in which they find themselves.

Already grateful for your attention, I take this opportunity to offer you my most cordial greetings in the Lord and best wishes for many successes in your work.

Bishop Lucio Muandula
Bishop of Xai-Xai
President, ConferĂȘncia Episcopal de Moçambique (CEM)