Pope Francis coming to Morocco as “a pilgrim of peace & fraternity”
In a video message to the Moroccan people, Pope Francis says he is coming to the Kingdom as a “pilgrim of peace and brotherhood, in a world that greatly needs it”.
Pope Francis remarked that both Christians and Muslims believe in God the merciful Creator “who created men and women, and placed them in the world so that they might live as brothers and sisters, respecting each other’s diversity and helping each other in their needs.”
“God entrusted to them the earth, our common home, to guard it responsibly and preserve it for future generations,” he pointed out.
“It will be a joy for me to share these convictions directly with you at the meeting we will have in Rabat”, he said. Pope Francis underlined that this trip offered him “the precious opportunity to visit the Christian community in Morocco and to encourage its journey.”
The Pope also mentioned that he would be meeting with migrants, who, he said, “together embody an appeal to build a world of greater justice and solidarity.”
Immigration will actually be high on the agenda of Pope Francis, who is the first pope to visit the North African country in 35 years, after the visit to Pope Jean Paul II in 1985.
Pope Francis who had backed the United Nations Global Compact for Migration signed in Marrakech last December, will on Saturday meet migrants and deliver a speech at the Caritas Diocesan Centre.
Also, the Pope will hold a mass in a Rabat stadium on Sunday to be attended by up to 10,000 people, mostly sub-Saharan African students and migrants.
Interreligious dialogue will also feature high in the Pope’s talks in Morocco.
In this connection, Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, highlighted the symbolism of the meeting between King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, and Pope Francis, scheduled for Saturday.
“It is necessary to underline the symbolism of a meeting between the Pope and the Commander of the Faithful, two important religious leaders,” Bourita said in a recent interview with French magazine “Le Point”.
“The Pope comes to a country where the head of State has a special religious status and is not only Commander of Muslims. He has the responsibility to protect, to preserve, the three great monotheistic religions,” Bourita said, explaining that “this title of Commander of the Faithful has existed since the 9th century; it is a unique concept in the Muslim world.”
The Pope’s visit takes place “in a context marked by a loss of points of reference”, Bourita said, noting that the two leaders’ personality, and vision are necessary in this particular moment “when moderate voices have difficulty making themselves heard”.