Pope Francis Takes Apostolic Journey to Morocco

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By Emily Drooby

In Morocco, the Pope did something unexpected.

Not long after his arrival in the capital of Rabat, he sat down with the country’s king, Mohammed VI. Together they signed an important statement on Jerusalem and its spiritual significance as a city of peace. They urged that Jerusalem be preserved for humanity and pointed to its religious importance.

Their joint statement said, “It is our hope, therefore, that in the Holy City, full freedom of access to the followers of the three monotheistic religions and their right to worship will be guaranteed…”

Although, the Pope didn’t address it directly, both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital city.

The Holy Father did focus on a pillar of his pontificate, creating stronger unity between Christians and Muslims.

Pope Francis said, “it is vital to foster the culture of dialogue and adhere to it unfailingly, to adopt mutual cooperation as our code of conduct and reciprocal understanding as our method and standard”.

Nearly the entire population of Morocco are believers in Islam.  Less than one percent are catholic about 23,000. There are two Archdioceses in the nation, served by 15 diocesan priests and 31 religious’ priests. There are also 15 catholic schools.

On Sunday, the pope celebrated outdoor mass at a Rabat Sports Complex.

Thousands attended, including Muslim leaders in a sign of unity.

In his homily the Holy Father talked about rejecting hate and promoting tolerance, he said, “…to continue to let the culture of mercy grow, a culture in which no one looks at others with indifference, or averts his eyes in the face of their suffering…continue to be a sign of the Father’s loving embrace”.

Francis also praised Morocco’s Catholics for their support in helping migrants who pass through the African country while heading to Europe. The Holy Father visited a small group of migrants as a sign of his support.

The Pope concluded his journey by speaking with Morocco’s Catholic clergy and paying his respects at the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the king who is considered the father of modern Morocco.