AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Bishop of Gurue: "Believers should feel that the Church belongs to them"

Thursday, 13 October 2022

Gurue (Agenzia Fides) - Many residents and representatives of the Mozambican Church are wondering about the reasons behind the violent attacks and arson attack on the Church in Chipene, given the escalation of violence that has been observed throughout the country since the beginning of September. "A first attack took place in early September in a village in Odinepa, where schools, health facilities and various infrastructures were destroyed. A week later, Chipene was attacked," Bishop Ignacio Lucas of Guruè told Fides in an interview released on the occasion of the formation seminar for new Bishops in the territories of first evangelization (see Fides, 2/9/2022).
Bishop Lucas himself comes from Chipene, in the Diocese of Nacala, where the parish is located where the Italian missionary Sister Maria De Coppi was brutally murdered (see Fides, 7/9/2022), and said he knew very well both the Salesian missionaries as well as the Comboni Missionary Sisters in the area. "On the day of the attack on the mission, I was informed immediately. There was a great deal of confusion regarding the news until the confirmation of the church burnt down and the death of Sister Maria". "I also learned from the priest present in Chipene that people are returning to their homes, although the fear remains."
In the diocese of Guruè there are 25 parishes with a total of 53 diocesan and religious priests and 60 religious sisters. "There is a very strong Christian presence in my diocese. Currently around 1,200 catechists are involved in the pastoral formation of the population. We are a young country with an average age of 17. There is also a church kindergarten and a primary school. Overall the illiteracy rate is very high, there are no factories or industries and the only possible work is agriculture".
According to the bishop, the guidelines for the work in the diocese, which he will lead in the future, are the four main aspects, which were also the focus of the diocesan assembly that took place in January 2022. "First of all, we dealt with the formation of small Christian communities and with the accompaniment of young people who are facing very high unemployment, as well as with the accompaniment of ecclesial groups and movements that allow us priests to provide assistance in prisons, to the sick, to lonely and sick people. A final point we touched on was support for the local communities. We want and we make sure that believers feel that the church is theirs". (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 13/10/2022)