VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is opening a three-nation pilgrimage to southern Africa with a strategic visit to Mozambique, just weeks after the country's ruling party and armed opposition signed a new peace deal and weeks before national elections.
Thirty years after St. John Paul II begged Mozambicans to end their civil war, Francis is expected to endorse the new Aug. 1 accord and urge its full implementation when he meets with government authorities on Thursday, his first full day in the region. He arrives Wednesday evening.
Francis will later travel to Madagascar, where deforestation is threatening ecosystems and wildlife that are unique to the Indian Ocean island nation.
He also makes a daylong stop in Mauritius before returning to Rome Sept. 10.