By Melissa Butz
Friday morning began the Pope’s final moments in Mozambique.
The Holy Father started by visiting a hospital that cares for patients of HIV-AIDS, a virus that affects 23 percent of the population in Maputo.
This center is run by the Catholic organization Sant’Egidio Community and the project to cure those living with AIDS is called, DREAM.
They offer antiretroviral treatment to the poor. The Catholic institution has assisted in the birth of 130,000 healthy children in Africa.
At the end of the visit, Pope Francis was given a wooden cross made from remnants of cyclone Idai. He brought it with him to Zimpeto Stadium, where he celebrated his final Mass in the country.
More than 60,000 pilgrims joyfully danced and sang, welcoming the pope to the arena. He appealed for forgiveness and reconciliation, despite difficulties and years of conflict within Mozambique.
“No family, no group of neighbors, no ethnic group, much less a nation, has a future if the force that unites them, brings them together and resolves their differences is vengeance and hatred,” said Francis.
He reminded them to follow Jesus’ example and the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Just before lunchtime, Pope Francis was accompanied to the airport in Maputo, where the country’s president thanked him for his visit.
He then boarded the plane to head to Madagascar, where he was received by the country’s president and first lady.
He met privately with the president before greeting the thousands lining the streets on the island just off the coast of Africa.
Pope Francis will remain there until Sept. 10, with a day trip planned to Mauritius for Monday.