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Pope Francis starts Africa trip with climate change in focus

Klaus Blume and Gioia Forster, DPA on

Published in Religious News

MAPUTO, Mozambique -- Pope Francis arrived in Mozambique on Wednesday as part of a trip to three African nations heavily threatened by climate change.

Upon landing at the airport in the capital, Maputo, Francis was solemnly welcomed by President Filipe Nyusi, other guests of honor, military and church representatives, and spectators.

A military band played music, while dancers performed traditional dances to drums.

After spending two days in Mozambique, the pope is scheduled to visit Madagascar and Mauritius.

Protecting the environment and the dangers of climate change have been key issues for Pope Francis, who published an encyclical or "laudato si" on the topic back in 2015, and said in June that the Church was "fully committed to do its part" to help stop climate change.

Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, has been hit by cyclones Idai and Kenneth this year.

 

About 28% of the country's population of nearly 30 million are Catholic.

The southern African nation is affected by ongoing, sporadic violence between the ruling party Felimo and the main opposition party, the former rebel group Renamo. The two groups fought against each other in a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992.

General elections are set to be held Oct. 15 amid a tense atmosphere and growing concerns about renewed violence.

"It's a blessing that the Pope is coming at this point in time," 44-year-old Catholic Telma Mabjaia told dpa after visiting a Sunday Mass in Maputo.

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