Pope’s visit, an opportunity to advance interreligious dialogue, mutual understanding among Christians & Mulsims
The Pope who arrived Saturday in Morocco on a two-day visit at the invitation of King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, was greeted by the Sovereign who hosted in his honor a state welcome ceremony at the Tour Hassan esplanade wherefrom the head of the Catholic Church addressed hundreds of people, the authorities, representatives of the civil society and the diplomatic corps.
“All need to help each other overcome tensions and misunderstandings, clichés and stereotypes that generate fear and opposition. Likewise, it is essential that fanaticism and extremism be countered by solidarity on the part of all believers,” he said.
Pope Francis also called from Rabat for encouraging cooperation in building a world of greater solidarity, marked by honest, courageous and indispensable efforts in order to promote a dialogue that is respectful of the richness and distinctiveness of each people and every individual.
In this regard, the Holy father expressed appreciation for the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates. The institute trains men and women preachers in order to combat all forms of extremism, which, the Pope said, often lead to violence and terrorism that constitute an “offence against religion and against God himself”.
Actually, Saturday Afternoon, the pope and the Sovereign visited the Mohammed VI Institute and met there some scholars and trainees.
The Pope pointed out that for authentic dialogue, religion needs to build bridges between people. While respecting our differences, he explained, faith in God leads us to acknowledge the eminent dignity of each human being, as well as his or her inalienable rights. Therefore, freedom of conscience and religion are inseparably linked to human dignity, he insisted.
For this to happen, all need to go beyond mere tolerance to respect and esteem for others, accept the distinctive religious beliefs of others and enrich one another through diversity. Thus, creating bridges between people through inter-religious dialogue calls for a spirit of mutual regard, friendship and fraternity.
In this regard, the Pope expressed appreciation for the International Conference on the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries, held in Morocco in 2016, that condemned the exploitation of religion as a means of discriminating against or attacking others.
He also commended the creation in 2012 of the Al Mowafaqa Ecumenical Institute in Rabat that seeks to help promote ecumenism, as well as dialogue with culture and with Islam.
He said all these are ways to halt the misuse of religion to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and the invocation of the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression.
In order to build a “society that is open, fraternal and respectful of differences,” the Pope 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”.
The Argentine Pope noted that his visit was taking place on the 800th anniversary of the historic encounter between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Egypt in 1219. He said that the “prophetic event shows that the courage to encounter one another and extend a hand of friendship is a pathway of peace and harmony for humanity, whereas extremism and hatred cause division and destruction.