VATICAN – Pope Francis set off from Rome on Wednesday morning shortly after 8:00 a.m. for his 31st Apostolic Journey abroad, during which he will visit Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. [By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp]
Pope Francis departed from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Wednesday morning at approximately 8:05. He is expected to arrive at Maputo International Airport at approximately 6:30 pm local time.
The Alitalia Airbus A-330 has been baptized “Giovanni Battista Tiepolo” for this flight. On hand at Fiumicino Airport to bid farewell to the Pope were various religious and civil leaders.
Smiling, as usual, the Pope took hold of the handrail with his right hand, and ascended the stairs leading up to the plane. He then greeted the captain and two hostesses who welcomed him aboard. Then he turned and waved to everyone present.
Pope meets with group prior to leaving
Prior to leaving the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis met with a group of about 12 people around 7:00. The group was comprised of persons from Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, the places Pope Francis will visit on this Apostolic Journey.
These immigrants have found help through the Jesuit-run Centro Astalli and the Saint Egidio Community. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, accompanied the group.
Pope sends message to Italian President
As he left Italian territory, Pope Francis sent the following telegram to the Italian President, Sergio Mattarella:
As I embark on my Apostolic Journey to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, moved by the vibrant desire to encounter the brothers and sisters in the Faith and the inhabitants of these dear countries, it is a pleasure, Mr President, to send you this expression of deferential greetings, which I accompany with my most fervent prayers for the good of the Italian People. FRANCISCUS PP.
Welcome awaiting Pope in Maputo
Upon his arrival in Maputo around 6:30 Wednesday evening, Pope Francis will be welcomed by President Filipe Nyusi, who signed the latest peace accord this past 6 August with opposition party Renamo, thus agreeing to the elections which will take place on 15 October. After the welcoming ceremony the Pope will go to the Apostolic Nunciature to rest.
His Apostolic Visit will officially begin Thursday morning with a courtesy visit to the President, a meeting with civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps, and an interreligious prayer meeting with young people.
Tomorrow afternoon, he will meet with Mozambique’s bishops, and a representation of priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons, seminarians, catechists and parish lay leaders.
Afterward, he will pay a visit to “Matthew 25” House which assists street children and youth.