Vatican City, Aug 21, 2020 / 04:45 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis made an unexpected phone call this week to a bishop in northern Mozambique, where militants linked to the Islamic State have seized control of the port city of Mocimboa da Praia.
“Today ... to my surprise and joy I received a call from His Holiness Pope Francis who comforted me greatly. He said that he … is following events in our province with great concern and that he has been praying for us. He also said to me that if there was anything else that he could do, we should not hesitate to ask him,” Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa wrote on a diocesan webpage.
Lisboa leads the Mozambique diocese of Pemba, located in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, a region that has experienced escalating extremist violence with multiple churches burnt, people beheaded, young girls kidnapped, and more than 200,000 people displaced by violence.
Pope Francis called the bishop on Aug. 19 after the Islamic State declared that it had taken two military bases near Cabo Delgado’s port city Mocimboa da Praia.
“I told him about the difficult situation in Mocimboa da Praia, which has been taken by insurgents, and that there has been no contact with the diocese for a week from two religious sisters from the Congregation of St. Joseph of Chambéry who were working there,” Lisboa said.