"I hope that, inspired by its traditional spirit of solidarity, the Malagasy people can overcome adversity and build a future of development by combining respect for the environment and social justice," he said.
In his meeting with bishops in Madagascar, Pope Francis said that they renewed together a commitment to care for the poor and to be "sowers of peace and hope."
Pope Francis ended his six-day trip to Africa on the island nation of Mauritius. "I chose it because it is a place of integration between different ethnic groups and cultures," Pope Francis said, noting the different immigrants from India and other countries who have come to call the tourist destination home over the past two centuries.
Mauritius obtained its independence on March 12, 1968, after more than 200 years of colonization by the French and the British following years of Dutch and Portuguese settlements.
The country is made up of many different ethnic groups, primarily Indo-Mauritian, Creole, Sino-Mauritian, and Franco-Mauritian. The primary religion on the island is Hinduism, followed by Catholicism and Islam.
"There is strong inter-religious dialogue, and also friendship between the heads of different religious denominations. Something that would seem strange to us, but they thus experience the friendship that is natural," Francis reflected.
The pope said that in Mauritius he found a beautiful bouquet of flowers upon entering the chancery. It was sent as a gift from the grand imam as a sign of brotherhood.
Francis said that he was also impressed to see Muslims and Catholics working together in an HIV treatment clinic in Mozambique run by the Community of Sant'Egidio, a lay movement centered on peace and helping the poor.
On his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis said during an in-flight press conference that he was touched by how the African people in the crowds lifted up their children for him to see.
"Africa is full of life," Pope Francis said. "It is the treasure of the poor, the child."