Maputo — The Mozambican government has declared that there is no political motivation behind the visit of the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francisco, in early September.
At the official launch, on Monday, of the programme for the papal visit, Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco told reporters "There is no interest in mixing together contents, in this case political content. The Mozambican government regards the visit as a pastoral and a state visit".
He urged all Mozambicans, and all the country's political parties, to avoid attempts to take any political advantage from the visit, which will take place under the motto "Hope, Peace and Reconciliation".
The fact that the papal visit coincides with the initial stage of the campaign for the 15 October general elections is a mere accident, said Pacheco, and the government never had any plans to make political capital out of the Pope.
He said all the conditions have been established for the papal visit to take place in a festive, and secure environment. For this type of event, "additional measures" are being prepared, in close collaboration with the Vatican teams who deal with security matters.
Pacheco announced that a public holiday will be granted for Maputo City and province on 6 September, the final day of the papal visit, to allow Maputo residents to attend the Mass given by Pope Francis in the national stadium in the outlying Maputo neighbourhood of Zimpeto.
Since 6 September is a Friday many people are certain to take the opportunity, not to go to a Catholic mass, but to enjoy a long weekend.
For his part, the Apostolic Nuncio in Maputo, Piergiorgio Bertoldi, said he hoped the Papal visit might promote the construction of a just and inclusive country and of a solid peace.
"It s no accident that we are going to have an inter-religious meeting (on 5 September), that is, a meeting with representatives of all religious denominations who practice their faith in this country", he said. "The church intends to enter upon this path of peace, to strengthen, bless and help".
Bertoldi too said there should be no attempt to take political advantage from the visit, since the invitation came from the Head of State (President Filipe Nyusi) and not from any political party, and representatives of all Mozambican political formations will attend the meetings addressed by Pope Francis.
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