Two days dedicated to the “open” Church



By Souad Sbai

Interreligious dialogue, protection of migrants and environment: these are the main issues addressed by Pope Francis in the apostolic journey to Morocco, the 28th trip of his Pontificate. The Pontiff recalled the meeting between San Francisco and the Sultan and urged to sow “a future and hope, not with violence or hatred” but “with the strength of compassion poured out on the Cross.”

Two intense days dedicated to interreligious dialogue and confirmation in the faith of the local Church, without forgetting neither the migrants nor the needy, that ended with the farewell ceremony at the airport of the Moroccan capital. An apostolic journey, Pope Francis’ twenty-eighth trip, made of two historic and important days for the world from the point of view of the progress of interreligious dialogue, the protection of migrants and the defense of the environment. This and much more is what the Pope’s visit to Morocco represented.

Two days that ended with the Holy Mass celebrated in the Prince Moulay Abdellah sports complex in Rabat before tens of thousands of faithfuls. In Morocco, a Muslim country, there are about 25,000 Christians in the national territory. The homily was dedicated to the evangelical parable of the prodigal son, probably also used as a metaphor to describe the internal opposition to his idea of ​​a Church as “open” as possible to dialogue with the world.

Before the celebration, Pope Francis met the clergy in St. Peter’s Cathedral, urging them to continue the path of dialogue with “the Muslim brothers and sisters”, to be distinguished naturally from the Muslim Brotherhood that is a extremist organization of radical Islamism. It is important to be careful not to fall into instrumentalizations or believe in false news. It was here where Francis gave an affectionate hug to the ninety-five years old monk Jean-Pierre Schumacher, the last survivor of the massacre of the monks of Tibhirine, in Algeria. A figure able to inspire even a film.

Talking about exploitation, the Holy Father also emphasized, while speaking with the religious, the importance of combating and denouncing the use of diversity and ignorance to sow fear, hatred and violence. “The future and the hope are not sown with violence, neither with hatred nor with ethnic, religious or economic supremacy, but with the force of compassion poured out on the Cross to all men,” he told the faithful recalling the meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi with Sultan Al-Malik Al-Kamil, Saladin’s nephew, in Damietta in 1219.

Pope’s second day in Morocco began with a morning visit to the rural social services center of the nuns of Temara, led by three Spanish nuns with the support of the volunteers. A place where the weakest and most defenseless, almost all (if not all) Muslims are cared for. A place that offers from nursery services to the teaching of reading and writing to adults. It also has a dining room and offers medical care to those who need it.

Around 5:00 p.m. – local time – the Pope got on the plane to return to Rome. Pope Francis thanked King Mohammed VI and the royal family, the government and the whole population for the “warm welcome and generous hospitality.” The Pontiff granted his divine blessing and guaranteed his prayers “for the peace and prosperity” in Morocco.

This concludes the second visit made by a Pontiff to this land, after the visit made by John Paul II in August 1985. On the first day of his visit, the Pope described Morocco as an “example of humanity” in regard to the migrants and refugees and expressed concern about the serious migration crisis, launching “an urgent appeal to seek concrete means to eradicate the causes that force many people to leave their country, their families to, often, find themselves marginalized or rejected”.


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