Moramanga (Agenzia Fides) - "The journey of Pope Francis was extraordinary, full of encounters and emotions. Francis reminded the Bishops that a Pastor must be close to God, to his priests, close to the people. Madagascar is a country where poverty is the fundamental problem. Being close to the people means being close to the poor. The Church has made the choice of the poor: the announcement to the poor is the first duty of the Church, as it was for Jesus": with these words Mgr. Rosario Vella, SDB, bishop of Moramanga, told Agenzia Fides the joys and emotions of Francis's visit to Madagascar.
Recounting the emotion and joy of the people of God in Madagascar, the Bishop remembers the various moments of the visit. "The Pope recommended the authorities to take care of the people, to fight against corruption, to pay attention to the common Home. In fact deforestation throughout the territory is producing serious problems of ecology, moreover poverty increases as well as corruption and violence.
"On Saturday evening - continues the Bishop - a crowd of about 200,000 young people met the Pope on the immense lawn of Soamandrakizay. The weather was not good: it was very cold and there was a wind that would have discouraged anyone, but not these young people who were expecting a blessing and a word of encouragement from Francis and a grace that gives them the strength to face all the troubles of life. With simplicity, two of them, Rova and Vavy, told their Pope about their lives, who had words of comfort and encouragement".
"Touching - he continues – was the thought addressed to the Virgin Mary. The Pope urged young people to follow her example, who said yes in difficult times. These young people showed him their courage, staying all night to pray. The Lord certainly listened to their prayers".
The story continues: "On Sunday morning, at dawn, there was a huge crowd in all the streets, gathered in Soamandrakizay. The joy was intense but exploded with the arrival of the Pope. Once again his word resounded in everyone's heart: «The worst form of slavery is selfishness. Whoever closes in himself and leaves no place for God and the poor will never be able to feel the profound joy of being with Him and loses the enthusiasm to do good». I had the grace and joy of being present. What impressed me - notes Mgr. Moraranga - is that in a moment all barriers were removed: poor and rich, wise and ignorant, adults and young, Christians and non-believers, just and sinners, powerful and weak: we all felt we were children of God who loves us immensely".
"The last meeting on Sunday evening - recalls the Bishop - was with the priests, men and women religious. In Madagascar they are the ones who do a lot: evangelization, human promotion, defense of women, education, dispensaries .. Without them society would be really poorer. Pope Francis, in front of more than 2,000 consecrated persons, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the whole Church. In fact they live in difficult situations and carry on their shoulders, not to mention their health, the weight of the apostolic labors".
"When we live the joy of the Gospel - the Pope reminded them - we, consecrated persons «can resist all those forms of idolatry that make us think only of the deceptive securities of power, career, money and of the search for human glory!».
"For this new mission - the bishop of Moraranga concludes - the Pope, with his words and his example, has traced for us all a path: "To remain in the heart of Jesus and in the heart of his people". Francis urged us to have preferences: the poor and the little ones". (RV/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 10/9/2019)