Pope Francis praised the passion and political commitment of Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina, meeting him on September 7, 2019, in Antananarivo.
The day after his arrival on the island of the Indian Ocean – the second leg of his apostolic journey after Mozambique – the pope went to the presidential palace Iavoloha, where he met privately with the head of the State before signing the Golden Book with this message written in French: “I came as a sower of peace and hope: can the seeds thrown into this land bring abundant fruit to the Malagasy people! The Lord bless you! “
After the traditional exchange of donations – the Pope offered reproductions of three 19th century lithographs representing Malagasy – he then met the authorities of the country, in an adjacent hall. “Today is a blessed day! President Rajoelina said at the beginning of his speech. He thanked the Pope for his visit, 30 years after that of John Paul II (April 30, 1989): “Your Holiness, you are here in a friendly land, you are here at home. “
If the long-awaited development after independence “is still not at the rendezvous,” said Andry Rajoelina, however “a new page opens in the history of Madagascar: the Malagasy have taken over their destiny … (they are) a brave people who keep faith, hope, and love in their hands: ardent faith in God, hope for a better tomorrow, and love for their country “.
Improving broad passages of his speech, the president expressed his “love” for the homeland and for his fellow citizens, assuring his commitment to the service of his country.
“You spoke with passion, you spoke with love of your people, I thank you for your testimony of patriot,” said the pope before pronouncing himself a speech, pleading for the fight against corruption and s’ raising against deforestation.