We, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) greet you in the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have been following with increasing concern the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Diocese of Pemba, Cabo Delgado Province – the widespread violence, destruction of property, forced dislocation of over 200 000 people and loss of life. The God we worship, and whose children we all are, is the God of Love and Peace (cf. 2 Cor. 13:11). The violence, suffering and death caused by ongoing armed conflict is an affront to all of us. In moments of despair we can cry out: “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Rev. 6:10).
The Pastoral Letter issued by the Mozambican Bishops over the weekend of 22 August 2020 is prophetic in its call for “Hope, Peace and Reconciliation”, and clearly sets out the position of the Church and the role it should play. In the words attributed to St Francis of Assisi, we as the Church are to be a channel of God’s peace.
Our hearts are warmed by the news of the Holy Father’s phone call to the Bishop of Pemba on 19 August 2020, and the encouragement it gave not only to the Bishop, but to all the people of Cabo Delgado. In the same spirit of brotherhood and solicitude expressed by the Holy Father, beginning with his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing on Easter Sunday 12 April 2020, we send this letter of solidarity to you brother bishops and God’s people in Mozambique entrusted to your care. We assure you of our prayers for peace in Cabo Delgado and for your well-being.
In the face of attempts by those opposed to peace to sow division in Mozambique, we commend you for unity issuing the Pastoral Letter. We appreciate your call for reconciliation and your commitment to spare no effort in encouraging and supporting the processes of promoting a culture of peace because as St. Paul reminds us “Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”. Indeed, working for reconciliation is a responsibility placed upon all of us and as the SACBC, we avail ourselves to cooperate with you in making justice, peace and reconciliation a reality in your country.
We share the closeness of the Holy Father to you and we would welcome the opportunity of a solidarity visit once international travel between our two countries resumes. In the meantime, we pray that you will remain steadfast in your efforts to minister in these difficult circumstances and that you will be sustained in your hope in the Prince of Peace. We commend you to the motherly care and prayers of Our Lady Queen of Africa for peace in your country.
Yours in Christ
Bishop of Mthatha and President of the SACBC