Mauritius: Pope addresses authorities, visits shrine of Father Laval

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Pope Francis Visits Shrine of Father Laval in Mauritius

Mauritius: Pope addresses authorities, visits shrine of Father Laval

By Devin Watkins/ vaticannews.va and Jim Fair/ zenit.org

Pope Francis, on Monday, September 9, greeted the authorities, representatives of civil society, and diplomatic corps of Mauritius, and urged them to welcome migrants and to extend economic well-being to all young people.

At the last event of his one-day Apostolic Journey to Mauritius on Monday, Pope Francis launched an appeal to the nation’s politicians and civil servants for a better distribution of economic prosperity to all sectors of society.

He especially mentioned young people.

Youth unemployment in Mauritius hovered around 23% in 2018for 15-24-year-olds, according to the World Bank, while overall unemployment clocked in at less than 7%.

The Pope pointed out the disparity, while praising the country’s steady economic development since independence in 1968. “It appears that economic growth does not always profit everyone,” he said, “and even sets aside – by certain of its mechanisms and processes – a certain number of people, particularly the young.”

So he urged Mauritius’ political leaders to promote an economic policy “focused on people”, one that favors “a better division of income, the creation of jobs, and integral promotion of the poor.”

The alternative, he noted, would be to “yield to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of speculation and profit alone”.

Pope Francis also praised the democratic tradition that makes Mauritius “a haven of peace.” And he encouraged politicians to be examples to their compatriots in their conduct and fight against corruption.

He said the island nation’s culture is the result of successive waves of migration, making it particularly diverse. Around 48% of the country’s population of 1.26 million is Hindu, 33% Christian – of which 26% is Catholic – and 17% Muslim.

“For this reason,” said the Pope, “I encourage you, in fidelity to your roots, to take up the challenge of welcoming and protecting those migrants who today come looking for work and, for many of them, better conditions of life for their families.”

He called on Mauritians to be “protagonists and defenders of a true culture of encounter that enables migrants – and everyone – to be respected in their dignity and their rights.”

Finally, Pope Francis voiced his appreciation for the way the nation’s different religions work together towards building a harmonious society.

“And I express once more,” he concluded, “the desire of the Catholics of Mauritius to continue to participate in this fruitful dialogue that has so deeply marked the history of your people.”

POPE FRANCIS VISITS SHRINE OF FATHER LAVAL

September 9 is the feast of Blessed Jacques Désiré Laval, often called the Apostle of Mauritius. And as you might imagine, it was a moment of great joy for people on the island nation that Pope Francis was present on this day and visited the Shrine of Father Laval.

In the Holy Father’s homily, Francis stressed that Father Laval, through his missionary outreach and his love, gave to the Mauritian Church a new youth, a new life, that today we are asked to carry forward.

Blessed Father Laval, Francis acknowledged, also experienced moments of disappointment and difficulty with the Christian community, “but in the end, the Lord triumphed in his heart. For he had put his trust in the Lord’s power,” Francis noted.

Father Laval was born in France in 1803 and died at 60 in 1864 in Mauritius, where he spent his life serving the poor, sick, and suffering. His feast day is observed by Christians and non-Christians alike in the country.

During his visit, Pope Francis presented a give to the shrine, an icon of “Our Lady of Tenderness”.

This delicate and subtle representation of the Virgin Mary with Child is directly inspired by the renowned icon of “Our Lady of Tenderness”, better known in Byzantine Christian culture as “Our Lady of Vladimir”.

The icon of “Our Lady of Tenderness” underlines that special and natural gentleness that there is between the Mother and Child, with that embrace culminating in the delicate contact between their cheeks. A sign of profound unity and closeness, this brings to mind the words of Psalm 17: “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings”.

Abandoning herself in that embrace, and letting herself be safeguarded in faith, however, Mary does not look at Jesus, because she knows that she is looked at by Him. Instead, she turns her incredibly gentle but at the same time sorrowful gaze towards the believer who contemplates the icon and, through him, to all humanity that has drifted away from God, causing the sufferings of which the world is full. In this way, a profound spiritual dialogue is established between those who contemplate and Jesus and Mary, who bows towards the Son in search of consolation, while the gaze of the Child is entirely focused on that of the Mother as if to express compassion for those who suffer.

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 22:17
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