Mozambique: Humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado is getting worse.

Mozambique's Internally Displaced Persons at a community meeting in Tara Tara district. Mozambique’s Internally Displaced Persons at a community meeting in Tara Tara district.  (AFP or licensors)
According to the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba, Bishop António Juliasse, the situation in Cabo Delgado is anything but better.

Fr.  Bernardo Suate – Vatican City

The assessment and appeal of Bishop Juliasse were made to Vatican News in light of a recent joint statement that was issued, on the situation of Cabo Delgado, by an Interreligious group of leaders in the area.

The problem of Cabo Delgado has not been solved

Bishop Juliasse reiterated that insecurity and the humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado are widespread. He regretted that the situation prevailing on the ground is not making much news in the various media outlets. Unfortunately, he said, “an impression has been created that the problem in Cabo Delgado has been solved, but this is not true,” insisted Bishop Juliasse.

“Cabo Delgado still has 800 000 displaced people.” He continued, “and there is still much movement of displaced persons from insecure areas. There are the newly displaced people who leave their villages in search of secure shelter,” Bishop Juliasse explained.

Explaining the continued insecurity, the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba cited the example of Nova Zambézia, near Macomia, which was attacked on New Year’s Day, 1 January 2022. In that attack, three people were killed, and one person was seriously wounded, said Bishop Juliasse. With the recent attacks, a new group of displaced persons is already on the move seeking secure shelter either from relatives or wherever.

Insecurity is driving displacement

“At the moment, there are displaced persons in all the districts of the central and southern regions of Cabo Delgado Province, and there are also displaced persons in large numbers who are leaving the northern part of neighbouring Niassa province for the central and southern part of Cabo Delgado,” said the Bishop.

“The violence we have experienced as a result of this terrorism has worsened the humanitarian crisis here in Cabo Delgado, adding to the other factors that already existed before, such as poverty, exclusion and the lack of schools in various places – all these factors have been aggravated by this situation of terrorism,” the Prelate said.

Tension in resettlement camps

Bishop Juliasse is worried about reports of tension in some resettlement camps. He called on the people of Cabo Delgado and elsewhere to bear in mind the mystery of Christmas recently celebrated. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was born in suffering, humility, and poverty.

“While is it true that the suffering we have in Cabo Delgado is great, we must not lose sight of the real problem, of the origins of this conflict by falling into another cycle of violence or by starting new forms of violence,” admonished Bishop Juliasse.

Bishop’s passionate appeal for help

Bishop Juliasse appealed for urgent humanitarian assistance on behalf of Cabo Delgado.

“The humanitarian situation, therefore, remains as it was before, and it is getting worse and worse … It is getting worse because people are starting to starve, and it would seem the World Food Programme (WFP) no longer can provide food for all displaced persons as it initially did. The number of people in need has grown. Similarly, the Diocesan Caritas and the Emergency Fund, while doing their utmost best to help, are struggling. They are now targeting only those who are really in dire situations,” said Bishop Juliasse.

“The message I have as an appeal is: Please do not forget the situation here. Do not leave Cabo Delgado alone to fend for itself. There is need for aid now and not later. Now, before it becomes too late,” said the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba.

Post-Retreat Depression

The last day of every retreat is the same.  I wake up, usually after not sleeping well, feeling a bit sad and annoyed.  I am sad because however long the retreat lasted it had been a time of quiet joy with God and the few people I was called to lead on this retreat.  The retreat center, even if located in the middle of the city, became an oasis against the noise and busyness of modern living, allowing each person the space to decompress, unwind and perhaps for the first time in a while, be alone with God.

I am annoyed, of course, because the retreat is over. This idyllic situation, unlike any other in this world, is disappearing before my eyes and there is nothing I can do about it.  I hear retreatants packing their bags, making travel plans, and beginning to say goodbye to each other.  Trying to appear stoic, I simply smile, thank everyone for coming, and say goodbye to each person, while interiorly my heart feels barren and alone.  I have what I like to call, PRD, Post-Retreat Depression.

During each retreat, I tell everyone that this is a special time of grace.   God often “lifts the veil” and allows us to encounter him in a way that is different from our ordinary daily life experience.  No matter how blessed a time the retreat was, most of us are not called to live on the mountain alone with God.  We have families, jobs, and communities that, whether we like it or not, are waiting for us.  The key, I emphasize, is to integrate our experience on retreat into our daily lives.

One area of difficulty for people who had a profound experience of God on retreat is the almost complete identification of an experience of God with God himself.  As a retreat director, I have witnessed countless people have life-changing experiences in the course of a retreat, especially retreats that include a heavy dosage of silence and solitude.  After these experiences, the typical response is, “I don’t want to leave here.”  This is, perhaps to our surprise, a natural human response.  Anytime we experience anything that brings joy, comfort, or pleasure, we don’t want to let go of it.  In fact, we often grasp at it and try desperately to force it to stay.

This is demonstrated almost verbatim in the Gospel account of the Transfiguration.  Jesus has taken Peter, James, and John up a mountain, a symbol of going on retreat and preparing the way for a deeper encounter with God.  There, in silence and solitude, Jesus is transfigured before them: “his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light” (Mt 17:2).  In the midst of this profound encounter with the Lord, Peter proclaims, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mt 17:4).

Peter, in his all-too-human attempt to hold on to this precious moment, is basically asking Jesus, “Do we really have to leave?”  The experience of the transfigured Lord, like our own deeper experiences of the Lord on retreat, is one he is not ready yet to let go of. A few verses later, however, Jesus and the three chosen disciples are already coming down the mountain.  Their retreat has abruptly finished and now they are returning back to daily life.

What is the point of the Transfiguration for the three disciples who witnessed this event?  Shortly after the Transfiguration, Jesus’ Passion begins.  In a matter of moments, Jesus will move from being the transfigured Lord to the Lord who is betrayed, beaten, and crucified.  The Passion, at least exteriorly, will appear as a contradiction of Jesus’ own words that he is “the light of the world and he who follows me will not walk in darkness” (Jn 8:12). Ultimately, the Transfiguration is meant to strengthen the faith of the disciples so that in the midst of the confusion and darkness of the Passion, their faith remains steadfast.

A similar reasoning, I believe, can be used to understand why God gives us consoling and beautiful experiences of him, whether it is on retreat, during prayer, or just simply in the middle of our daily lives.  They are meant to strengthen us.  In many ways, they are a quiet reminder from God that our lives, despite what we may feel and experience, are governed by God’s fatherly care.  What is perhaps most frustrating about these experiences is that we cannot, despite our best efforts, control or create them.  There is no method of prayer, retreat director, or special place that can cause them to occur more frequently or in the manner we desire. They are completely God’s gift to us, given when and how he sees fit. Hence, they are meant to be received with joy and gratitude.

Even though I remind retreatants of this at the end of every retreat, I still find myself slipping into what I have diagnosed as Post-Retreat Depression.  Despite the duration of the retreat, I witnessed firsthand God’s love breaking more deeply into a person’s life.  That person, despite his own fears and struggles and sometimes even because of them, becomes an icon of God’s relentless pursuit, not only of his soul but mine as well.  Like Peter, I have often asked God in the silence of my own heart, “Do we really have to leave?”

Shortly after each retreat ends, I am separated from those with whom I spent a few days alone on the mountain with Jesus.  The intimacy, silence and peace that we shared together are now behind us.  Now, against my own will, I wait at an airport filled with strangers, noise, and activity.  Occasionally, on the flight home the person I am seated next to will initiate some kind of spiritual conversation, but generally the flight is a quiet one.  I spend the majority of the time reflecting on the past few days and praying for those with whom I shared this journey.

There is a temptation to believe that after every retreat I am now plunged  back down to the base of the mountain and must wait again for the next retreat to begin my ascent.  With this mindset, life appears as an obstacle to our continuing growth in holiness. The reality is, because of this retreat, or a deeper experience of God in general, I am not plunged back down at the bottom once it is over, but I am actually at a higher elevation because of my experience.

Wiping the Slate Clean: The Heart of Forgiveness

LUCY ALLAIS

‘Wiping the slate clean, or concerning some wrong, ceasing to ‘hold it against the perpetrator, are metaphors associated with forgiveness. Can we make philosophical sense of them? Specifically, my concern in this article is to make sense of the idea that these metaphors capture a core part of forgiveness, in a way that is compatible with seeing that forgiveness must be granted without changing judgments concerning the wrongness of the offense and the perpetrator’s culpability for it.
The first difficulty is simply to make sense of what is involved in ceasing to hold action against someone while continuing to regard it as wrong and as attributed to the perpetrator in the way which is necessary for there to be something to forgive.
Forgiving seems to mean ceasing to blame, but if blaming means holding the perpetrator responsible, then forgiveness requires not ceasing to blame, or else there will be nothing to forgive. The second problem concerns the point or justification of ‘wiping the slate clean. It might be thought that where the perpetrator has made appropriate and proportional atonement, there is nothing left for forgiveness to do but to acknowledge this and that where this has not happened, ‘wiping the slate clean’ would amount to condonation, a failure to condemn wrongdoing properly.

Gingrich: Pelosi is ‘the person who is the most responsible’ for Jan. 6 violence

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House, is charging that the current speaker, octogenarian Democrat Nancy Pelosi, is the one at fault for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that damaged the U.S. Capitol.

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