ACN News, Monday, 23rd July 2012 – MOZAMBIQUE
20 years of peace in Mozambique: rejection of violence and a fragile democracy
By Reinhard Backes
“A peace mentality has grown up in Mozambique. People don’t want any more war,” said Comboni missionary Ottorino Poletto when describing the situation in this southeast African nation 20 years after the end of the civil war. “In Mozambique, however, democracy is not particularly well-developed. The country is essentially ruled by just a single party, FRELIMO, which wants to eclipse the others,” Father Poletto stressed during a visit of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). On 4 October 1992, the liberation front “Frente de Libertação de Moçambique” (FRELIMO) and the national resistance “Resistência Nacional Moçambicana” (RENAMO) signed a peace agreement mediated by the Catholic Church in Rome. This put an end to a civil war that broke out in the late 1970s and ruined the country’s economy.
(Comboni missionary Ottorino Poletto)
Since 1990, Ottorino Poletto, a native of Padua, Italy, has been overseeing a variety of social and pastoral projects of his order in the Archdiocese of Beira in the southern part of the country. These include elementary and secondary schools for some 9,000 pupils, boarding schools for 2,000 girls and boys and three large clinics and five missions in the districts of Buzi, Chibabava and Machanga.
“The people are desperately poor. They even starve if the rains don’t come,” explained Father Poletto, 61. He noted that his order’s work in the education and health sectors, agricultural development and pastoral efforts benefits around 350,000 people. The clinics alone treat some 65,000 patients a year, including 1,500 AIDS sufferers. “We are supported by around 1,000 volunteers and employees,” Father Poletto continued. “70 volunteers assist us in the literacy programmes alone, which are currently serving approximately 3,000 adults.”
The territory served by the Comboni missionaries comprises 450 satellite stations with small Christian parishes, and covers an area of around 25,000 square kilometres. Ten priests are currently performing pastoral work. ACN has already supported multiple projects of the missionaries, including training of catechists and the renovation of churches and chapels. In Buzi, Chibabava and Machanga, pastoral work could only begin after the end of the civil war in 1992. In the early years, Father Poletto was the only priest in the region.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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