"I would like to render homage to the democratic tradition that took root following your independence and that helps to make Mauritius a haven of peace. I express the hope that this art of living democracy can be cultivated and developed, especially by resisting every form of discrimination", said His Holiness Pope Francis, yesterday, during a meeting with authorities, civil society and diplomatic corps at the State House, Réduit.
He expressed appreciation of the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of the people of Mauritius, as well as the ability of its people to acknowledge, respect and harmonize existing differences in view of a common project. This, he added, sums up the history of Mauritians, born of the arrival of migrants from different horizons and continents who brought their own traditions, cultures and religions, and gradually learned to be enriched by the difference of others and to find ways of living together and striving to build a society committed to the common good.
Speaking about the economic growth of Mauritius, His Holiness Pope Francis encouraged the country to promote an economic policy focused on people and which favours a better division of income, the creation of jobs and the integral promotion of the poor.
For his part, the Acting President, Mr Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, highlighted that the visit of Pope Francis to Mauritius is particularly significant because the 9th of September coincides with the celebrations marking the 155th anniversary of the death of Blessed Father Laval, the apostle of the poor. His visit to Father Laval's tomb, he said, will have an inestimable moral significance in the minds and hearts of all Mauritians.
Speaking about the peaceful coexistence in Mauritius brought about by the spirit of sharing and respect for others that animate Mauritians, Acting President Vyapoory underlined that Mauritius has become not only a meeting place of civilizations but also of spirituality.
He furthermore acknowledged the efforts of the Vatican in the service of peace in the world, as well as Pope Francis' incessant calls for dialogue, human rights and the fight against extreme poverty, education of children and the ecology and rights of future generations to live on a habitable planet. He rejoiced that the Pontiff will, as a symbolic action, launch the laudable project "Planting 200,000 Trees" initiative, through the blessing of several trees which will be planted in Mauritius, Rodrigues and Agalega.
The Acting President also expressed gratitude for the moral support given to Mauritius and especially to the Chagossian people in the long struggle that has been waged for several years for the return of the Chagos Archipelago to the Republic of Mauritius.
For his part, the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, rejoiced that the population of Mauritius had the opportunity to discover Pope Francis as a humble and simple human being who is very close to people's sufferings and preoccupations. He said that the Pope's visit to Mauritius has contributed in increasing the spiritual dimension of the country adding that the island displays similarity with the Vatican on several issues such as peace in the world, climatic change, and the fight against poverty.
Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that his Holiness Pope Francis, who is the epitome of peace and reconciliation, will enable all believers of all religions in the country to feel a growing sense of awakening and enlightenment. He also expressed conviction that peace is primordial in this multicultural nation and recalled that the Mauritian society strives in favour of marginalised, elderly and handicapped people.
Speaking about education, the Prime Minister stated that the country is presently engaged in a process of aligning its education system with the Millennium Development Goals 2015-2030. As regards climatic change, he underlined that it is a global phenomenon with serious environmental, social, and economical repercussions and which constitutes one of the principal challenges for humanity. He appealed to international organisations to further assist middle-income countries like Mauritius to develop resilient economies since they are vulnerable.
Mass at Marie Reine de la Paix
It is to be noted that earlier during the day, His Holiness Pope Francis celebrated a mass at the Marie Reine de la Paix Monument. In his homily, he emphasised that, despite the country's economic growth in recent decades, special attention must be given to the youth who suffer from unemployment. This, he said, not only creates uncertainty about their future, but also prevents them from believing that they play a significant part in the shared history of Mauritius.
"Uncertainty about the future makes them feel that they are on the margins of society; it leaves them vulnerable and helpless before new forms of slavery in this twenty-first century", he said, adding that our young people are and must remain our priority.
Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Mauritius
His Holiness Pope Francis arrived in Mauritius, on 9 September 2019, on the final stop of a three-leg Africa tour where he celebrated the island nation's tolerance and diversity. He celebrated mass at the shrine of Marie Reine de la Paix in Port Louis, visited the shrine of Père Laval in Sainte Croix and met political leaders and other dignitaries at the State House, Réduit.