On Pope Francis’ visit to the Moroccan Kingdom

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On Pope Francis’ visit to the Moroccan Kingdom

By Fr. Dr. Rif’at Bader-Morocco

On board the flight from Rabat to Rome, Pope Francis held a press conference. A Moroccan journalist, on the flight accompanying 70 journalists, asked the Pope, “What is next? You came two days ago, what are the consequences of this visit for the future, for world peace?” The Pope replied saying, "I will say that now there are flowers, the fruits will come later.” He then elaborated on building bridges rather than walls that separate people.

It was indeed a historic and important visit that came on the heels of a visit to the fraternal UAE two months ago, during which he signed the document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, as if he wanted to embrace the Arab countries from the far east to the far west in a relationship of openness characterized by mapping out a ‘flowery’’ future for the Christian-Islamic encounter.

The two-day visit included two parts, namely an official one during which the Moroccan king participated in all its functionaries. The second one was pastoral, during which the head of the Catholic Church met with the heads of the churches, priests, and nuns. The climax of the visit was in the Holy Mass attended by some 10,000 in a well-prepared gym hall. This figure is quite satisfactory, given the number of Catholics in Morocco does not exceed 30,000 people.

Pope Francis and the King signed “an appeal for Jerusalem” and King Abdullah II was among the first people to extol the appeal. I view the appeal as a signal of the success of the Jordanian diplomacy in favor of Jerusalem. King Abdullah II had been in Morocco on the eve of the Pope's visit. He then headed to Assisi to receive the 'Lamp of Peace' Prize from the city of St. Francis. He explicitly said that he holds the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem. The statement signed by Pope Francis and his host King Mohammad VI is an affirmation of the current situation in Jerusalem. One of the most important features of this status quo is the Hashemite custodianship.

During the visit, I was honored to meet the request of Media 1 TV, the third-ranking Moroccan television station in regards to popularity, to make comments during the two-day Papal visit. It seems that I was the first Christian man to enter the station. At that time, I realized what King Mohammad referred to when he said in his welcoming address: “We need mutual understanding and the elimination of ignorance that engulfs relations.” The question is: do the Arab media outlets in our countries, in the West and in other countries serve mutual knowledge? Do they go hand-in-hand with the educational process of our children and with having new generations armed with sound knowledge accompanied by the creation of new generations based on sound knowledge and mutual respect?

In essence, we badly need what the Pope referred to as “the culture of mercy”. He did not hesitate to quote the attributes of God, namely His mercy and compassion, and the King of Morocco did not hesitate to quote the great attribute of God, namely that God is love.

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