The nine Italian Roman Catholic missionaries who were forced to leave Mozambique by the Portuguese authorities, gave a press conference in Rome on Saturday (13 April).
The nine Italian Roman Catholic missionaries who were forced to leave Mozambique by the Portuguese authorities, gave a press conference in Rome on Saturday (13 April). They described how they were physically attacked by crowds of white demonstrators before being flown out.
The priests, all members of the Comboniano Order -- better known as the Verona Fathers -- said they were attacked at Nampula airport where they had been taken by police. Two Portuguese missionaries were also expelled and were flown with the others to Lisbon on Saturday.
Earlier one of the Italian missionaries, the bearded Father Peano, said the priests were expelled for distributing a document calling on the Roman Catholic Church to be independent of the state authorities in Mozambique. At the conference, the priests denied that the document they had sent to the Bishops of Mozambique had called for independence from Portugal or had in any way supported the Frelimo Guerrilla movement. One of the fathers said the document questioned the church's silence on topical questions in Mozambique, including "the very grave war". "By its silence, the church is accepting the war", he said.
The Father Superior of the Comboniano Order Tarcisio Agostoni who is stationed in Rome, and was not among those expelled, explained in English what happened. A transcript of his speech follows: