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Mozambique Priest Says Pope To Visit This Year

6 minutes ago | Mozambique Mozambique Priest Says Pope To Visit This Year By AFP Pope Francis reportedly joked with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi last September that he would visit Mozambique in 2019

A senior Mozambican priest said Sunday that Pope Francis will visit the southern African nation this year, the first papal visit to Mozambique since 1988.

"I can tell you a secret… this year we will receive a very special visit. Pope Francis will be here among us this year," Giorgio Ferreti, the Maputo Cathedral priest told worshippers in the Mozambican capital.

President Filipe Nyusi invited the pontiff to visit Mozambique during a trip to the Vatican last September, announcing the possible trip to reporters in a breach of Vatican protocol.

The pope reportedly joked: "If I'm still alive."

Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, has around four million Catholics.

Though no date has been confirmed for a papal visit to Mozambique, September has been suggested as a plausible date for a trip that may include nearby Madagascar.

Pope Francis kicked off the year with a historic public mass for an estimated 170,000 Catholics at a stadium in the capital of the United Arab Emirates in February.

It capped the first ever papal visit to the Gulf where Islam was born. Francis has made outreach to Muslim communities a cornerstone of his papacy.

Twenty percent of Mozambique's population are Muslim and the country has been rocked by a jihadist insurgency in the nation's north since October 2017.

Pope John Paul II visited Mozambique in 1988 and witnessed first-hand the devastation wrought by the country's long civil war.

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