Wednesday, April 26, 2023
The representative of the Holy Father in Mozambique has urged the new Auxiliary Bishop of the country’s Catholic Archdiocese of Maputo, Tonito Francisco Xavier Muananoua [in the center, pictured], to look out for lost sheep in the example of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. [Credit photo: Maputo Archdiocese. Text: ACI Africa]
As a priority task, “a Bishop is to approach the Church, to walk with her, to live a sharing experience, including a bond of communion with his Diocesan Bishop,” Archbishop Piergiorgio Bertoldi said in his homily on Sunday, April 23, during the Episcopal Ordination of Mons. Tonito Francisco Xavier Muananoua.
“Be a good shepherd, the one who leaves ninety-nine sheep and goes after one that has disappeared,” Archbishop Bertoldi said during the celebration that was held at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Maputo Archdiocese. The Apostolic Nuncio added, “It is the Bishop who, like Jesus, must work within that Church to which the spirit sent him.”
“It is not the power of our means, our virtues and our abilities that brings about the Kingdom of God,” he further said, adding that God’s Kingdom is realized by “God who works wonders, precisely through our weaknesses, our inadequacy to the task.”
Archbishop Bertoldi urged the Episcopal candidate who was appointed Auxiliary Bishop on March 1 to foster humility in his Episcopal ministry. He said, “You must have the humility not to simply rely on yourself but to work in the Lord's vineyard at the Lord's help, trusting in his divine grace,” Archbishop Bertoldi who presided over the Episcopal Ordination said.
Highlighting the importance of working in communion with the Local Ordinary of Maputo, the Italian-born Archbishop who has represented the Holy Father in Mozambique since March 2019 said, “Such a communion opens up the possibility of the Lord's presence. It becomes a symbolic measure of the experience that each of us must have in order to recognize the presence of the risen one.”
“Patience is needed to travel this path at a pace dictated by the Heart of the disciples, by the Heart of the Church,” the 59-year-old Apostolic Nuncio further said, and added, “It is patience that the Vicars of Christ, the Bishops, are called to cultivate and here we see how difficult the episcopal mission is.”
Archbishop Bertoldi continued, in reference to patience, “It is about making that fire of charity which burns eternally in the Heart of Christ perceptible to men.”
Speaking at the same April 23 Episcopal Ordination event, the President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique (CEM), Archbishop Inácio Saúre, congratulated the newest member of the Conference, adding that the new Bishop can “always count on the unconditional support “ of CEM members.
On his part, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Maputo, Archbishop João Carlos Hatoa Nunes, expressed appreciation to the Auxiliary Bishop for the “yes given to the Church to serve the Church of Maputo.”
“I thank Bishop Tonito Francisco Xavier Muananoua, our Auxiliary Bishop, who with generous understanding and love for the Church responded yes to the call that the Church gave him,” Archbishop Hatoa said. He further said that Bishop Muananoua answered “yes to the interpretation of the Church and with this yes, he accepted to come from the beautiful lands of Gurué to the Archdiocese of Maputo to help us in the exercise of the Episcopal mission.”
“You can always count on our prayers, our support, our friendship and collaboration in everything for the greater glory of God and for the sanctification of God's people,” Archbishop Hatoa said. In his maiden speech as Auxiliary Bishop of Maputo, Bishop Muananoua expressed gratitude to God, to the Holy Father and the universal Church for his appointment.
“I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in my person by appointing me as the Auxiliary of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Maputo. Thank you, Holy Father, for the signs of love that you have shown to the Universal Church and in a very special way to our church in Mozambique,” he said. He added, “There is no shepherd without a sheep. That's why it's impossible for me to assume this position and carry it out without the help of all of you.”
The new Mozambican Catholic Bishop was born in 1972 and was ordained a Priest in October 2003 after completing his studies in philosophy and theology at the Inter-diocesan Seminary of St. Augustine, Matola, and the theological Seminary of Maputo, respectively. Bishop Muananoua who has been assigned the Titular See of Oescus holds a Licentiate in Spiritual Theology from the Pontifical Theological Faculty and Pontifical Institute of Spirituality (Teresianum) in Rome.
He is expected to assist the 75-year-old Archbishop Francisco Chimoio who has been at the helm of the Maputo Archdiocese since February 2003. Erected in January 1612 as Apostolic Administration of Mozambique, it was elevated to the Archdiocese of Maputo in September 1976. The Mozambican Archdiocese, which measures 26,358 square-kilometers has a population of 1,323,000 Catholics, according to 2019 statistics.
[Monteiro Bonifácio in Mozambique contributed to this news report. Jude Atemanke – ACI Africa]