The north of Mozambique - in particular the province of Cabo Delgado - has been the scene of months of violent attacks carried out by gangs of self-styled local Islamic fundamentalists. Armed groups suddenly hit isolated villages, kill, destroy, kidnap women.
From October 5, 2017 to October 27, 2019, the date of one of the most recent episodes of violence, there are a total of 172 attacks. Hundreds of victims, and thousands of displaced people. Among the victims, we painfully learned of the death of some brothers and sisters of the Community of Sant'Egidio. In the prayer for peace in the world, which is held every month in the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, together with their memory, a cry of peace rose loudly to the Lord.
The homily of Andrea Riccardi
Lk 22: 35-38
"Lord, here are two swords" - so the disciples respond to the Lord's preaching of peace. With swords. His words, in a time that was becoming difficult, offered a way for the disciples, so that they would not lack confidence in him. Did you ever miss something when I sent you? 'But now, whoever has a bag take it, and so a saddlebag; whoever has no sword, sell the cloak and buy one. " Now, we need to understand now, what it is now, what has changed now. The Lord shows his way to his disciples: not the way of the sword, even if he speaks of the sword. The strength of the disciples is the love with which Jesus follows and protects us, attested daily by the Scriptures. But they, like so many people do, draw swords. Swords and indifference seem to be the symbols of our time!
Yes, ours seems like the time of the swords. For this, we pray for peace and do not forget the countries that suffer from war and violence. This is why we preach peace. The sword of love and not that of war. We feel that the peace enjoyed by our countries is a responsibility towards those who have no peace. Unfortunately, in the latter period, terrorist attacks have multiplied everywhere. Think of the two Armenian-Catholic priests, father and son, killed in Syria in the Hassaké region. We listen to the word of Jesus that says “Enough! Enough with violence, enough with deaths, enough with shed blood. And we continue to pray for peace in Syria, tormented by a war that has lasted since 2011.
We also think of the serious situation of a country that is very dear to us, South Sudan. South Sudan, an entire country and an entire people, soon has the right to peace. Soon! And here too the voice of Jesus, and not only the voice of women and men, resounds and says, enough, enough with swords, enough with war. In South Sudan peace means future for the many young people, the many children who are hungry and thirsty for the future.
Tonight, praying for many countries we would like to focus attention on a small and forgotten corner of the world, Mozambique, where in recent times various terrorist attacks - it seems Islamic in nature - have developed in the North. Everything takes place in mystery: where do the murderers come from? what they want? why do they do it and for whom do they do it? We do not know, all of this is a mystery, but we well know, instead, what they leave on the ground: deaths and destruction of the poor defenseless villages. I would like to talk about a small forgotten corner, the village of Mbau, in the Cape Delgado region in the north. Here was an attack in September that killed several people, some say ten, but our sources say more than thirty. And the absence of information on distant lives of peripherals that matter little is significant. All farmers. Five people from the community died: Adelino Lucas, Joao, Silva Laurenso, Pedro Manuel, Eduardo Manuel. Their beheaded and charred bodies were found. Many others took refuge in the countryside with nothing. And after a month another attack. By now terrorists are raging terrorizing people.
Some of our brothers took refuge in Pemba, where they found welcome. Unfortunately, four of them - Remigio, Manuel, Rafael, Clemencia - have decided to return to Mbau, to recover their poor things left at home, because they had nothing. The bus was attacked and the four I remembered died. Two were saved. A blind old woman, a friend of the community, Joanina, was found dead by the military. It has now become dangerous to travel to the region, although others returning from Pemba have reached the village.
Peripheral deaths count for little in Mozambique. Let alone in the world. But for us it can't be like this! It cannot be just a scenario of indifference, because this is our reality, the communion, of which the apostle Paul says: "If a member suffers, all the members suffer together; and if a member is honored, all the members rejoice with him. Now you are the body of Christ and his members, each for his part "(1 Cor 12, 26-27). Above all, the members who are at peace must suffer with the affected members. This has always been our feeling: those who are far away must be closest! Those in need must be closest! And whoever is at war must be the son of those in peace. It is the Christian, compassionate, evangelical way of living the global world. Thus, began the work for peace. This is how the wounds of distant patients are treated.
For this reason, we leave the primacy of myself, of ourselves, from the horizon that becomes small for self-centeredness: we widen our hearts to that of the world of the peripheries. Let's widen the heart and we'll finally breathe! We will breathe and give the Spirit of the Gospel. Mbau is a periphery of the periphery, but it is at the center in front of God, in the eyes of that God who does not forget. We ask for peace in prayer. We persistently work for world peace. May Mozambique find peace! May South Sudan find peace! May the kidnapped go home! May children and young people live safely. May the poor and the peripheral live safely! And the Lord with his power of love, which makes the earth tremble, upsets the ways of the violent and terrorists and finally converts them into ways of peace.
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