Pope Francis arrived in Mozambique on Wednesday as part of a trip to three African nations heavily threatened by climate change. Upon landing at the airport in the capital, Maputo, Francis was solemnly welcomed by President Filipe Nyusi, other guests of honour, military and church representatives and spectators. A military band played while dancers performed traditional dances to drums. After spending two days in Mozambique, the pope is scheduled to visit Madagascar and Mauritius. Protecting the environment and the dangers of climate change have been key issues for Pope Francis, who published an encyclical or “laudato si” on the topic back in 2015, and said in June that the Roman Catholic Church was “fully committed to do its part” to help stop climate change. Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, has been hit by cyclones Idai and Kenneth this year. About 28 per cent of the country’s population of nearly 30 million are Catholic. First Chinese bishop consecrated after naming deal The southern African nation is affected by ongoing, sporadic violence between the ruling party Felimo and the main opposition party, the former rebel group Renamo. The two groups fought against each other in a 15-year civil war that ended in 1992. General elections are set to be held October 15 amid a tense atmosphere and growing concerns about renewed violence. “It’s a blessing that the Pope is coming at this point in time,” 44-year-old Catholic Telma Mabjaia said after attending a Sunday mass in Maputo. “He will bring a message of peace, that we must end the war,” Mabjaia said. She has tickets for the Pope’s public mass on Friday, which her pastor recently distributed. Pope Francis’ next stop will be Madagascar, which along with Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the World Bank, the world’s fourth-largest island suffers three cyclones per year on average. Mauritius, which lies east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, also suffers from cyclones and rising sea levels. Francis described Mauritius in a video message as a country that had developed from a meeting of many different ethnicities and enjoys a rich and diverse culture and religious traditions. African countries’ struggle with climate change was also on the agenda this week at the World Economic Forum on Africa’s conference in Cape Town, which started on Wednesday and ends on Friday.