On 11 February, Pope Francis, through the Holy See press office, announced the appointment of Bishop Don Luiz Fernando Lisboa to lead a diocese in Brazil, Bishop Lisboa’s home country. Pope Francis also granted Don Luiz Fernando Lisboa the title of Archbishop ad personam, a higher-hierarchy position within the Catholic Church.
As Bishop of Pemba, Don Luiz Fernando Lisboa was among the few voices in Mozambique speaking up about the deplorable humanitarian and human rights conditions in Cabo Delgado, where there is an ongoing armed conflict since 2017. Because of his work in Cabo Delgado, Bishop Lisboa became the target of a smear campaign by government affiliates to undermine and delegitimize his human rights work at the frontlines of the war.
A few days after the release of our Urgent Action on 26 August 2020, calling on the Mozambican government to end the intimidatory campaign against Bishop Lisboa and to ensure him a safe and enabling environment, President Nyusi visited Bishop Lisboa and expressed support for his work. This visit was a gesture to the government affiliates, and it helped to quell the smear and intimidation campaign against the Bishop. In the context of increasing repression of freedom of expression and press freedom in Mozambique, Bishop Lisboa’s transference to Brazil might represent an additional measure by the Vatican to ensure his safety.