MAPUTO, Mozambique — Catholic bishops in Mozambique scheduled a day for prayer for peace and urged the country’s leaders to listen to the cries of citizens.
“Hearing the many cries coming to us, we deplore the inconsistency between what is said and done and call on government and opposition to abandon their weapons definitively and immediately resume effective dialogue,” the Mozambican bishops’ conference said in an early November appeal to mark 40 years of independence from Portugal.
“We must listen to the cry of bereaved families mourning the death of sons fallen in combat,” said the bishops’ conference, headed by Bishop Lucio Muandula of Xai-xai.
Clashes continue between government troops and Renamo, the Mozambique National Resistance, which refused to recognize the long-governing Mozambique Liberation Front victory in October 2014 elections.
“We must also hear the cry of children and young people forced to abandon their studies, of farmers who cannot produce a livelihood for their families, of those impoverished by the interruption of business activities, of internal and external investors seeing their businesses ruined by progressive insecurity.”
The bishops asked all citizens, and “Christians in particular, to commit to building peace through reconciliation gestures, civil and democratic coexistence, respect for differences and shared responsibility.”
The bishops said the continued deterioration in the political and military situation had caused “much popular anguish” and a new upsurge of internally displaced people and refugees who had fled “at risk of losing their lives.”
They scheduled a day of prayer for peace in all Catholic parishes in Mozambique on Nov. 22, the feast of Christ the King.
Catholics make up more than a quarter of the 25.8 million inhabitants of Mozambique, which is one of the world’s poorest countries but has also seen rapid economic growth.
Speaking during a Nov. 9 visit to Angola, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said his country should follow Angola’s example by disarming and transforming guerrilla movements into political parties.
Angola’s Catholic bishops also issued a pastoral message to mark four decades of independence Nov. 11, noting that “peace and reconciliation” still required “continued work.”
They said Angolans should commemorate independence by “investing in spiritual and moral reconstruction,” and “safeguarding the dignity of Christian culture against religious fanaticism and cultural by-products of globalization, which seek to trivialize God.”