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Pope rails against ‘vengeance’ as he ends Mozambique visit

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Pope Francis on Friday told tens of thousands of faithful at a packed stadium not to resort to “vengeance” as he wound up a visit to Mozambique, ravaged by a 16-year civil war and now the target of jihadist attacks.

His maiden visit to the poor former Portuguese colony came a month after the government and the former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party, signed a historic peace treaty.

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Brutal jihadist attacks in northern Mozambique have claimed more than 300 lives over two years and forced thousands from their homes.

“We cannot think of the future and build a nation” with violence, the pope said in a homily to a crowd of about 60,000 at the Zimpeto stadium in the Mozambican capital Maputo.

Speaking in Portuguese, he asked them not to follow the old law of retaliation “an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth.

AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA The stadium was jampacked and many had travelled hundreds of miles to see the pontiff

“No family, no group of neighbors or ethnic group and even less no country has a future if the motor that unites them… is composed of vengeance and hatred,” he said.

Denouncing reprisals cloaked under the guise of legality, the pope warned that violence was “an endless spiral without end with a very high cost.

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“You have the right to peace!” he said.

Mozambique is a mainly Christian country and 28 percent of the population is Catholic.

Earlier Friday, the pope visited an AIDS care centre on the outskirts of Maputo, hailing the carers for responding to their “silent cry” for help in a country ravaged by the disease.

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AFP / Tiziana FABI The Argentinian pope addressed the crowd in Portuguese

According to UNAIDS, 2.2 million Mozambicans — 60 percent of them women — were HIV positive in 2018 in the southern African nation of 27 million people.

There were 150,000 new infections last year and 54,000 AIDS-related deaths.

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– ‘Restoring dignity’ –

Francis hailed the “compassion” of the health workers for responding to “this silent cry, almost inaudible, of innumerable women and all the people living in shame, marginalized and judged by everybody.

Francis thanked workers at the AIDS centre for “restoring the dignity” of women and children suffering from HIV and AIDS and for “hearing their cries and intervening personally.”

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AFP / Tiziana FABI He also visited a hospital which hosts a program for HIV-positive people and AIDS patients

He did not however touch on the delicate subject of prevention — an issue riddled with minefields given the Catholic Church’s stand on contraception — especially in a largely conservative and traditional continent.

Francis is the first pope to visit Mozambique since John Paul II in 1988 and is on a three-nation tour that includes Madagascar and Mauritius.

On Thursday, the pontiff visited a brand new hospital in Zimpeto, a poor outlying district of the capital, where 23 percent of adult residents have been hit by HIV.

– ‘Dream’ –

The complex, inaugurated last year, comprises a state-of-the-art laboratory and hosts a program for HIV-positive and AIDS patients, especially pregnant women.

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This program, named “Dream”, was launched in 2002 by the Italian lay Catholic association Sant’Egidio which is very close to the Vatican and is dedicated to social service.

It runs 13 health centers in the country. The “Dream” project is spread across 11 African countries.

Mozambique and Madagascar are among the world’s poorest countries and Francis’ decision to visit is seen by commentators as an act of solidarity from a cleric who was a frequent presence in the shantytowns of Argentina and is now called the “pope of the poor”.


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WATCH LIVE: Trump holds mask-option Mount Rushmore rally and fireworks celebration

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President Donald Trump left the White House during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday to attend an Independence Day event in South Dakota.

Trump was told not to attend but did so anyway.

“Trump coming here is a safety concern not just for my people inside and outside the reservation, but for people in the Great Plains. We have such limited resources in Black Hills, and we’re already seeing infections rising,” the Oglala Sioux president, Julian Bear Runner, told the Guardian. “It’s going to cause an uproar if he comes here. People are going to want to exercise their first amendment rights to protest and we do not want to see anyone get hurt or the lands be destroyed."

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Trump Jr’s girlfriend tests positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota ahead of the president’s event: report

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Yet another senior Donald Trump advisor has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Trump supporters shouted ‘go home’ at Native Americans protesting Mount Rushmore rally on their land: report

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Oglala Sioux protesters were arrested protesting against President Donald Trump's Independence Day event at Mount Rushmore on Friday.

The protesters argued that it is their land after the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1868, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate.

The Black Hills of South Dakota, where Mount Rushmore is located, was among the lands the tribes received to bring about an end to Red Cloud's War, which is also known as the Bozeman Trail War.

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