Pope in Madagascar insists: ‘Poverty is not inevitable’

Pope Francis speaking in Madagascar

Pope Francis speaking in Madagascar

Thirty years ago, he continued, "divine providence created an "oasis" of hope where children reacquired their dignity, young people went to school, and parents began working to prepare a future for their children".

But while the pope's visit to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius was buoyed by an optimistic message of peace and faith, the realities he addressed at almost every stop weighted his speeches and meetings with concerns about climate change, poverty and other darker issues.

"As I overfly Uganda, on my way to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, I send greetings to your Excellency and your fellow citizens the assurance of my prayers for peace and harmony".

Deforestation in Madagascar has become an increasing concern as a growing portion of its biodiverse forests are cut down and burned to leave way for cattle and farmland.

Pope Francis, condemned what he said was its clan culture of privilege and corruption that allows a very few to live in wealth while the vast majority languish in grinding poverty.

"We are confronted not with two separate crises, one particular environmental and the other social, but rather with just one elaborate disaster which is both social and environmental", he mentioned.

Francis made his appeal on a visit to Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island, which research institutes and aid agencies say has lost about 44% of its forest over the past 60 years, abetted by illegal exports of rosewood and ebony.

Pope Francis speaking in Madagascar
Pope Francis speaking in Madagascar

Pope Francis told the politicians and ambassadors, "We can not speak of integral development without showing consideration and care for our common home", which means that a way must be found to preserve natural resources, while also investing in education, health care and job creation.

Pope Francis has made the care of the atmosphere a central theme of his six-year hang forth, returning over and over again to factors of ecological accountability, the dangers of carbon emissions, and the scourge of climate replace.

Early Sunday morning, in Antananarivo's Andravoahangy church, pastor Jean-Yves Ravoajanahary had briefed 5,000 people on the two-hour trek they would have to make to get to Soamandrakizay stadium.

"Yet we Christians can not stand with arms folded in indifference, or with arms outstretched in helplessness. No".

That afternoon, Francis had a chance to see for himself what happens when people don't give up and instead roll up their sleeves on his visit to the city of Akamasoa, which means "good friends" in Malagasy and was once the site of a landfill.

Francis taught Father Pedro Opeka theology at the Colegio Máximo de San Miguel in Buenos Aires in 1968 while Francis was completing his own studies for the priesthood. Every corner of these neighbourhoods, every school or dispensary is a song of hope that refutes and silences any suggestion that some things are "inevitable". "Let us say it forcefully: poverty is not inevitable".

"Dear young people, this great work accomplished by your elders, is now yours to carry forward". Today it is home to 25,000 people. He prayed that "the fruits of their work may ensure a dignified life to their families".

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