Addressing Christians in Morocco, Rabat’s archbishop hopes that the pope’s upcoming visit to Morocco will encourage “interreligious Islam-Christian dialogue.”
Casablanca – Archbishop Cristobal Lopez wrote a letter to his “dear Christian brothers and sisters,” on Pope Francis’s visit scheduled for March 30-31, 2019, at the request of King Mohammed VI. The Pope will visit Rabat and Casablanca.
In his November 13 letter, Lopez explained that the pope wants to meet the people of Morocco and “His Majesty the King, in the spirit of an interreligious Islam-Christian dialogue,” which both sides seek to promote, Vatican News reported.
“The mission of the Pope is of confirming us in our faith,” Lopez affirmed.
The pope wants to “get to know us, share parts of our life, encourage us, pray with us and bless us,” he added.
Speaking about Christian migrants arriving to Morocco, Archbishop Lopez emphasized that many Christians in Morocco are “passing through, on their difficult migration, towards Europe.”
Lopez also stated that “the Pope’s visit will be a wonderful occasion to express and live our communion with the Bishop of Rome … and the universal Church,” as well as with people of different faiths in Morocco.
The pope’s visit will be the second of its kind from a pope to Morocco after the visit of John Paul II in 1985. King Hassan II invited Pope John Paul II as an opportunity to build a bridge between Muslims and Christians.
The Catholic Church in Morocco
In a September interview with Morocco World News, Lopez affirmed that the Catholic Church has a good relationship with the Moroccan government.
“The only Christians having problems with the law here are those who proselytize,” he said.
According to Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, anyone who “employs enticements to undermine the faith” of Muslims or converts them to another faith is subject to up to 3 years in prison.
The Catholic Church’s presence in Morocco, according to Lopez, does not aim to “recruit” new faithful but to contribute to the common good.
“Our mission is building the Kingdom of God. To be able to do this, here like in any other part of the world, we contribute to the common good, fighting against poverty, violence, and discrimination. We aim to help everyone live their lives with dignity as children of God, which is what we all are,” explained Lopez.
To achieve the church’s goals in Morocco, Lopez said, “we are working on projects geared towards the education of younger generations, the emancipation of women, the abolition of child labor, and the integration of ethnic and religious minorities.”
In March, King Mohammed VI sent a congratulatory message to Pope Francis on the fifth anniversary of his papacy. The King said that their mutual goal is to contribute to the construction of a better future to ensure the principles of harmony, peace, sustainability, and security.