Pope Francis Slams Corrupt leaders in Mozambique, also visit Madagascar

His trip is anticipated by many, including conservationists who hope the environmentally-conscious spiritual leader will spotlight the island that lost 2% of primary rainforest last year, the highest of any tropical nation according to the World Resources Institute.

The pope arrived in Madagascar on Friday evening, for the second leg of his tour.

“He should say that this forest is God’s creation. He gave it to us and for our own benefit,” said Anselme Toto Volahy, researcher from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

On his final day in Mozambique, Pope Francis on Friday scolded political and business leaders in the resource-rich but poor East African country who allow themselves to be corrupted by outsiders.

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“Mozambique is a land of abundant natural and cultural riches, yet paradoxically, great numbers of its people live below the poverty level,” Francis said in the stadium, in an area of the capital where many people live in shantytowns with houses of corrugated metal roofs.

The pope visited a hospital for HIV-AIDS sufferers run by the Sant’ Egidio community and then said a mass for some 60,000 of people in Maputo’s national stadium.

“At times it seems that those who approach with the alleged desire to help have other interests. Sadly, this happens with brothers and sisters of the same land, who let themselves be corrupted. It is very dangerous to think that this is the price to be paid for foreign aid,” Francis said.

While the pope did not give any specific examples of corruption, Mozambique is still struggling to recover from the impact of a $2 billion debt scandal, which saw hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing guaranteed by the Mozambique government disappear.

The head of the Catholic Church also told tens of thousands of faithful at the packed stadium not to resort to “vengeance”

“We cannot think of the future and build a nation” with violence, the pope said in a homily to a crowd of about 60,000 at the Zimpeto stadium in the Mozambican capital Maputo.

Speaking in Portuguese, he asked them not to follow the old law of retaliation “an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth.

“No family, no group of neighbours or ethnic group and even less no country has a future if the motor that unites them… is composed of vengeance and hatred,” he said.

On his first full day in Mozambique, Pope Francis applauded a recently signed peace deal between government and rebels.

The pontiff’s visit comes after the government and the former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party, signed a historic treaty.

The two sides in the former Portuguese colony fought a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992 and killed about a million people. But only last month did they sign a permanent ceasefire.

In talks with President Filipe Nyusi, the pope expressed his “personal gratitude… for the efforts made in recent decades to ensure that peace is once more the norm.”

Reconciliation, he said, is “the best path to confront the difficulties and challenges that you face as a nation.”

He described the accord as “a landmark that we greet with the hope that it will prove decisive.”

The talks at the presidential palace were also attended by Renamo opposition leader Ossufo Momade.

The pope also commiserated with victims of the two cyclones that killed more than 600 and affected hundreds of thousands.

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