On the culturally and religiously diverse island nation, Francis talks about "A conversion that seeks not only to avoid terrible climatic phenomena or extreme natural catastrophes but also to promote a change in the way we live, so that economic growth can really benefit everyone, without the risk of ecological catastrophes or serious social crises.”
Port Louis (AsiaNews) – At the last event of his visit to Mauritius on Monday, Pope Francis said that economic growth must be "focused on people" and job opportunities created for everyone so that all, including the poor, can be part of "integral ecological conversion”.
Mauritius, the last stage of Pope Francis' trip, is a different place than Mozambique and Madagascar. Per capita income is about 20 times higher and its population are a mix of people coming from Africa, India, Pakistan and, to some extent, Europe. Thus, it is home to Hindus, Christians and Muslims.
However diverse, cultural and religious traditions generally live peacefully side by side. For Francis, the country is as an example and a model of coexistence, something he stressed in his address this afternoon to the country’s authorities, representatives of civil society and the diplomatic corps. This followed a private meeting with Mauritian Acting President Barlen Vyapoory and Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
In his speech, the Pope not only acknowledged the “cultural, ethnic and religious diversity” of the people of Mauritius,” but he stressed its “beauty born of the ability to acknowledge, respect and harmonize existing differences in view of a common project. This sums up the history of your people, born of the arrival of migrants from different horizons and continents who brought their own traditions, cultures, and religions, and gradually learned to be enriched by the difference of others and to find ways of living together and striving to build a society committed to the common good.”
“In this regard, you possess an authoritative voice, one that has taken on life. A voice that can remind us that it is possible to achieve lasting peace when we start with the conviction that ‘diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a ‘reconciled diversity’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 230).”
“Your people’s DNA preserves the memory of those movements of migration that brought your ancestors to this island and led them to be open to differences, to integrate them and to promote them for the benefit of all. For this reason, I encourage you, in fidelity to your roots, to take up the challenge of welcoming and protecting those migrants who today come looking for work and, for many of them, better conditions of life for their families.
“Make an effort to welcome them, following the example of your ancestors, who welcomed one another. Be protagonists and defenders of a true culture of encounter that enables migrants (and everyone) to be respected in their dignity and their rights.”
“Since its independence, your country has experienced a steady economic development that should certainly be a reason to rejoice, but also to be on guard. In the present context, it appears that economic growth does not always profit everyone and even sets aside – by certain of its mechanisms and processes – a certain number of people, particularly the young. That is why I would like to encourage you to promote an economic policy focused on people and in a position to favor a better division of income, the creation of jobs and the integral promotion of the poor (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 204).
“To encourage you not to yield to the temptation of an idolatrous economic model that feels the need to sacrifice human lives on the altar of speculation and profit alone, considering only immediate advantage to the detriment of protecting the poor, the environment and its resources. This entails moving forward with that constructive approach that, as Cardinal Piat wrote on the fiftieth anniversary of Mauritius’ independence, works for an integral ecological conversion. A conversion that seeks not only to avoid terrible climatic phenomena or extreme natural catastrophes but also to promote a change in the way we live, so that economic growth can really benefit everyone, without the risk of causing ecological catastrophes or serious social crises.”
At the end of the meeting, Acting President Vyapoory asked the Pope to come to the palace garden (pictured) to bless some of the 200,000 trees that will be planted in memory of his visit.
This was Francis's last event in Mauritius before flying to Madagascar ahead of his return to Rome, tomorrow.