Pope Francis encouraged Mozambique’s political leaders Thursday to employ the “weapons of peace” to continue the process of reconciliation in the strife-torn nation.
Addressing members of the government, parliament, and diplomatic corps, the pope said he spoke for the entire “international community” in thanking Mozambique’s leaders for “the efforts made in recent decades to ensure that peace is once more the norm, and reconciliation the best path to confront the difficulties and challenges that you face as a nation.”
On August 1, in fact, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, and the leader of the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), Ossufo Momade, signed the Military Hostilities Cessation Accord.
The agreement officially called for laying down of arms and extended definitively a truce that has lasted since December 2016, after several years of armed clashes between government forces and those of RENAMO.
In his speech, the pope referred to this accord as a “landmark” that he hopes will prove decisive and a “further courageous step on the path of peace that began with the General Peace Agreement of 1992 in Rome.”
“How much has happened since the signing of the historic treaty that sealed the peace and has gradually begun to bear fruit!” Francis exclaimed. “Those first fruits sustain hope and the determination to make your future not one of conflict, but of the acknowledgement that you are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of a single land, stewards with a shared destiny.”
What is needed is the “genuine” courage that consists in the “tireless pursuit of the common good,” the pope said, rather than the “courage of brute force and violence.”
“You have experienced suffering, sorrow and affliction, but you have refused to let human relationships be governed by vengeance or repression, or to allow hatred and violence to have the final word,” he continued.
The pursuit of lasting peace calls for “strenuous, constant and unremitting effort,” he said, for peace is “like a delicate flower, struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence.”
As he went on, the pope laid out what he sees as the foundations for a just and lasting peace, calling on Mozambique’s leaders to uphold the dignity of every one of its citizens.
“May you not desist as long as there are children and young people without schooling, families that are homeless, unemployed workers, farmers without land to cultivate,” he said.
“These are the foundations for a future of hope, because it will be a future of dignity! These are the weapons of peace,” he said.
The pope also underscored what he sees as the manifold fruits of peace, already evident in Mozambique society.
“Promising advances have been made in the fields of education and health care,” he said. “I encourage you to continue your efforts to build up the structures and institutions needed to ensure that no one feels abandoned, especially the young who make up so great a part of your country’s population.”
The young, he said, “are not only the hope of this land; they are also its present, a present that challenges, seeks out and needs to find worthy channels that can allow them to make good use of all of their talents. They have the potential to sow the seeds for the growth of that social harmony desired by all.”
The pope concluded by offering a prayer that his visit would help “make peace, reconciliation and hope reign definitively in your midst.”