NY Interfaith Immigration

Immigration and interreligious dialogue, axes of the Pope’s trip to Morocco

Francisco arrives in the country this Saturday on a two-day visit, where he will be received by the small local Catholic community led by two Spaniards

The interreligious dialogue and immigration undoubtedly one of the top priorities on the agenda of the Pope, are the two main lines that mark the journey begins Francisco Saturday to Morocco, where he will stay until Sunday. His stay in the Maghreb country is, in a way, a second stage of his visit to another Islamic nation in early February: the United Arab Emirates. In his capital Abu Dhabi, Jorge Mario Bergoglio signed, together with the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the highest religious authority of Sunni Islam, a document on the Universal Brotherhood in which Catholics and Muslims promised to reject the use of religion to justify any type of violence.

The Pope will find in Rabat a good interlocutor to deepen this line: King Mohamed VI, promoter of a moderate Islam and open to dialogue with other faiths. The palpable example of this will is the Institute for the Formation of Magnets, Preachers and Preachers, founded by the monarch in 2015 and through which hundreds of Islamic leaders, both African and European, have already passed. Francisco will visit this academic center that is preparing a subject to introduce his students to what is Christianity. The heads of the institute commissioned the local Church to produce a manual, according to Cristóbal López Romero, appointed just over a year ago the archbishop of Rabat.

“It is still in the process of elaboration and validation; I hope that someday that text can be used, and even better if it is presented and explained They are a minority of some 25,000 people amidst a vast majority of Sunni Muslims, as 99% of the 34 million Moroccans profess the Islamic religion. Catholics living in the Maghreb country come from more than 100 different nations, since many of them are sub-Saharan immigrants who use Morocco as a platform from which to try to reach Europe. Some end up giving up and stay in Moroccan territory.

The local Caritas is dedicated to the care of migrants: it helps about 4,000 a year. The Pope will get to know this work first hand with the visit he will make this Saturday to the headquarters of this ecclesiastical charitable institution in Rabat. There he will be welcomed by another Spanish prelate , the archbishop of Tangier, Santiago Agrelo, a great defender of the rights of immigrants, and will deliver a speech that probably has implications for Spain, the first destination to which many of the sub-Saharan present in Morocco.

For Mohamed VI, Francisco’s stay in the country represents an opportunity to present himself to the world as a monarch open to dialogue and respectful of minorities .His presence exalts who receives him. That is why many countries invite you, “says López Romero.

From this character of religious leader, the interest in meeting another religious leader such as the Pope is deduced, beyond the quality of both as Heads of State.

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