Pope Francis arrived late Wednesday in Mozambique to begin a seven-day tour that will take him to three African nations, beginning with his time in Maputo.
President Felipe Nyusi and other dignitaries were on hand to meet the pope at the airport when he arrived about 7:30 p.m. local time. Images from the president showed the greeting of Pope Francis, part of a welcoming ceremony that extended into the streets as throngs gathered to witness the arrival.
The pope waved to crowds during his journey to the Apostolic Nunciature, where he will stay during his time in Mozambique. He plans visits to the Zimpeto DREAM Center, a Catholic medical ministry serving HIV patients on the outskirts of Maputo, as well as the celebration of an open-air Mass in the city’s main Zimpeto stadium.
The impoverished southeast African nation that welcomes him is still recovering from the impacts of cyclones Idai and Kenneth earlier this year. The hard-hitting Idai left devastation in the coastal city of Beira while affecting some 3.8 million people.
Mozambique also hosts the pope at a time of guarded political optimism between Nyusi’s ruling Frelimo party and the Renamo opposition. The warring parties are navigating the early days of a peace agreement signed on August 6, and experts say the deal – a third attempt – still is threatened by elections next month and the security challenges presented by Renamo forces that rejected the deal.
The pope plans visits in three nations, with trips to Madagascar and Mauritius on the schedule.
Image: President Filipe Nyusi