Pope Francis’ five-day journey to Africa has ended. the Pope visited Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius last week.
The Pope recalled the joyful faces of the children, women, and men who accompanied him along the sometimes muddy and other times dusty roads of Maputo and Antananarivo.
“The faces of all those people who animated, in the true sense of the word, the wonderful liturgies celebrated in these three countries,” he said.
Pope Francis said the joy they were able to express, despite the difficulties and precarious conditions in which many of them are forced to live, has something to teach us all.
“It teaches us that we cannot calculate the well-being of a people according to parameters linked to economic data alone. A lively faith, friendship, relationships, family ties, solidarity, the ability to enjoy small things, the willingness to give of oneself – these are parameters that will never make it into the statistics,” he said.
The Pope said his most moving memory of the whole journey was undoubtedly the meeting with the eight thousand children of Akamasoa, in the place which was once an enormous garbage dump, and where now there are small but dignified brick houses, schools, places of recreation.
“The presence of a God who has chosen to live and dwell forever in the midst of His people”, Pope Francis said in Akamasoa.
Several times in these days, the Pope has urged priests, and men and women religious, to rekindle the fire of the authentic missionary spirit that cannot be separated from being close to those who suffer.
Pope Francis also invited people to consider the condition of the poor as something “inevitable”.
“Never stop fighting the baneful effects of poverty, never yield to the temptation of settling for an easy life or withdrawing into yourselves”, he said.
Francis called for responsibility on the part of governments, political authorities and civil society, so that new paths can be taken on the road to development.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.