Pope Francis, today is received by Morocco's King Mohammed, in Rabat. Pope Francis has arrived in Morocco for a trip aimed at highlighting the North African nation's tradition of Christian-Muslim ties, while also letting him show solidarity with migrants at Europe's door and tend to a tiny Catholic flock.
RABAT, Morocco – Authentic interreligious dialogue, Pope Francis said Saturday in Morocco, is a way to combat terrorism. It should lead beyond “mere tolerance” of religious minorities, the pope said, who should be treated as full citizens regardless of their number.
“While respecting our differences, faith in God leads us to acknowledge the eminent dignity of each human being, as well as his or her inalienable rights,” Francis said.
“We believe that God created human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and he calls them to live as brothers and sisters and to spread the values of goodness, love and peace.”
“In a country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim and where locals who convert to Christianity or other faiths face persecution, the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics, a fourth of whom live in places where they’re a minority,” the pope said.
“It’s necessary to move past the concept of a religious minority “in favor of citizenship and the recognition of the value of the person, which must have a central place in every legal system.” he added.
Freedom of conscience and religious freedom, Francis said, which are “not limited to freedom of worship,” are linked to the dignity of the human person.
Francis also underlined that fanaticism and extremism must be “countered by solidarity on the part of all believers, grounded in the lofty shared values that inspire our actions.”
The pope’s remarks came during a welcoming ceremony that took place in Rabat’s impressive marble Esplanade of the Hassan Tower, which can host up to 20,000 people.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco (R) welcomes Pope Francis (L) in Rabat upon the pontiff’s arrival in the North African country on March 30, 2019 on a visit which will see him meet Muslim leaders and migrants ahead of a mass with the minority Catholic community.
The two spoke to the Moroccan people, authorities, representatives of civil society and with the diplomatic corps.
“As King of Morocco and Commander of the Faithful, I am the guarantor of the free practice of religion,” Mohammed VI stated.
“Today, religion should no longer be an alibi for ignorant people, for ignorance or for intolerance.”
Morocco, a Sunni Muslim kingdom of 36 million – with just around 40,000 Catholics, mostly immigrants – reformed its religious policies and education to try to limit the spread of fundamentalism in 2004 following a terrorist attack in Casablanca that killed 43 people the year before.
Religion, the king said, cannot be used to justify terrorism: “What all terrorists have in common is not religion, but rather ignorance of religion.”