While praising efforts at economic development in Mauritius and the nation’s peaceful coexistence among various religions, Pope Francis on September 9, 2019, encouraged the nation’s leaders to do more.
He addressed national authorities, leaders of society, and the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace in Port Louis. The island nation is his final stop in his September 4-10, 2019, apostolic journey to Mozambique, Madagascar, and Mauritius. In fact, the Holy Father headed home after the address (first blessing a large number of sapling trees that will be planted throughout the island).
“Thanks to this brief visit, I have the pleasure of encountering your people, known not only for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity but above all for the beauty born of the ability to acknowledge, respect and harmonize existing differences in view of a common project,” Pope Francis said. “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.”
The Holy Father noted that Mauritius is a nation entirely of migrants; there was no indigenous population before the arrival of colonists from Western Europe. He urged leaders to continue to welcome migrants and foster policies that help them to be successful.
He also praised the economic development that has occurred but warned that with that success comes danger. In particular, he affirmed the need to protect the poor.
“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,” Francis said. “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.”