Pope urges Catholics in Morocco to dialogue, not proselytize

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This photo taken and handout by the Vatican press office, Vatican Media, on March 31, 2019 shows Pope Francis praying during a visit to the St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat, during the pontiff's two-day visit to Morocco. (AFP/Vatican Media)
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This photo taken and handout by the Vatican press office, Vatican Media, on March 31, 2019 shows Pope Francis (R) addressing worshipers during a visit to the St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat, during the pontiff's two-day visit to Morocco. (AFP/Vatican Media)
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This photo taken and handout by the Vatican press office, Vatican Media, on March 31, 2019 shows Pope Francis (R) blessing worshipers during a visit to the St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat, during the pontiff's two-day visit to Morocco. (AFP/Vatican Media)
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Pope Francis meets children during a meeting with representatives of other Christian denominations at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rabat, Morocco, March 31, 2019. (Vatican Media/Reuters)
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This photo taken and handout by the Vatican press office, Vatican Media, on March 31, 2019 shows Pope Francis blessing a child upon his arrival for a visit to the Rural Center for Social Services at Temara, south of Rabat, during the pontiff's two-day visit to Morocco. (AFP/Vatican Media)
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This photo taken and handout by the Vatican press office, Vatican Media, on March 31, 2019 shows Pope Francis (R) addressing worshipers during a visit to the St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat, during the pontiff's two-day visit to Morocco. (AFP/Vatican Media)
Updated 31 March 2019
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Pope urges Catholics in Morocco to dialogue, not proselytize

  • Francis has stressed a message of Christian-Muslim fraternity during his first trip to Morocco
  • Proselytism is a prominent issue in religious discourse in the north African country, even though Christians, Muslims and Jews have coexisted peacefully here for centuries

RABAT: Pope Francis sought to encourage greater Christian-Muslim dialogue on Sunday, telling his flock that showing the country’s Muslim majority they are part of the same human family will help stamp out extremism.
On his second and final day in Morocco, Francis told Catholic priests and sisters that even though they are few in number, they shouldn’t seek to convert others but rather engage in dialogue and charity.
“In this way, you will unmask and lay bare every attempt to exploit differences and ignorance in order to sow fear, hatred and conflict,” he said. “For we know that fear and hatred, nurtured and manipulated, destabilize our communities and leave them spiritually defenseless.”
Francis has stressed a message of Christian-Muslim fraternity during his first trip to Morocco, a majority Muslim nation of 36 million. Proselytism is a prominent issue in religious discourse in the north African country, even though Christians, Muslims and Jews have coexisted peacefully here for centuries.

Pope Francis (R) blesses worshipers during a visit to the St Peter's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Rabat on March 31, 2019 . (AFP/Vatican Media)


After reaching out to the Sunni majority and Morocco’s ever growing community of migrants from countries in sub-Saharan Africa on Saturday, Francis turned his attention Sunday to Christian minorities. His aim was to highlight their constructive presence in Moroccan life.
Francis visited a social center run by Catholic religious sisters that serves a poor Muslim community south of the capital, Rabat, with medical, educational and vocational services. The Temara center operates a pre-school, treats burn victims, trains women in tailoring and provides meals for 150 children a day.
Catholic catechism isn’t taught at the pre-school.
“Their teachers are all Muslims and speak in Arabic and they prepare them on Muslim religion,” said sister Gloria Carrillero. “We did not come here with the purpose of doing proselytism. We came here just to help.”

Pope Francis meets children during a meeting with representatives of other Christian denominations at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rabat, Morocco, March 31, 2019. (Vatican Media/Reuters)


Catholics represent less than 1 percent of Morocco’s population and most are foreign-born migrants. Morocco also has between 2,000 and 6,000 homegrown converts to Christianity who are obliged to practice their faith privately because Morocco prohibits Muslim conversions.
These Moroccan converts often celebrate Masses in their homes and hide their religious affiliations for fear of prosecution and arrest. Yet many flocked to Francis’ afternoon Mass in a Rabat sports stadium with the hope the pope’s visit would compel Moroccan authorities to be more tolerant of religious diversity.
“With this visit, we want to tell the pope and the Moroccan society that we are proud to be Christians,” said Moroccan Christian Adam Rbati, who was attending the Mass with his Christian wife and newborn son. “It might not change much, but it will certainly create the space for future positive change.”
Francis touched on the issue of religious freedom in his opening speech to King Mohammed VI on Saturday, urging Morocco to move beyond just freedom of worship to true respect for an individual’s faith.

Pope Francis blesses a child upon his arrival for a visit to the Rural Center for Social Services at Temara, south of Rabat, on March 31, 2019. (AFP/Vatican Media)


“That is why freedom of conscience and religious freedom — which is not limited to freedom of worship alone, but allows all to live in accordance with their religious convictions — are inseparably linked to human dignity,” he said.
In a speech to Catholic priests in the city cathedral Sunday, Francis drew applause when he told them they should not proselytize. The church grows, he said, when people are attracted to its message, witness its charity and engage in dialogue as part of a human family.
He called for prayer “in the name of this fraternity, torn apart by the policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies, that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women.”


Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

Updated 23 April 2019
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Council of Arab Interior Ministers calls for cooperation to alleviate suffering of terrorism victims

  • Mohammed bin Ali Koman says the situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families
  • He was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts

TUNIS: Not only does the harm caused by terrorist crimes affect innocent victims, it also leaves their families and communities with psychological and social pain, the Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior has said.

This situation requires the cooperation of all to alleviate the suffering of the victims and their families and help them overcome their predicament, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali Koman said.

Koman was commemorating Arab Day to raise awareness of the pain of victims of terrorist acts, held every year on April 22 by the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, member states and the League of Arab States.

“Today is an opportunity to raise awareness of the pain and tragedies of victims of terrorist attacks and encourage all initiatives undertaken by official bodies and civil society organizations to alleviate their suffering,” he said.

“The effects of terrorist crimes have exceeded aggression against human lives and property to psychological and social impacts as well as affecting families,” he said.

“Terrorist crimes result in a continuous bleeding to the heart of affected communities, especially with the terrorist media being devoted to inspiring and promoting their criminal operations, which have affected thousands of victims, including children, women and the elderly.”

He hailed the efforts of the security services in their fight against terrorism and the great improvement in reducing its crimes in recent years, expressing his sympathies for the victims and his support for their families to overcome the aftermath of these crimes.

Koman stressed that the Council of Arab Interior Ministers has taken special measures to raise awareness about the pain of victims of terrorist acts, including the development of media programs to raise security awareness and improve citizens’ contribution to countering terrorist acts in implementation of the Arab counter-terrorism strategy. This was in addition to assigning the Arab bureau for security-related information activities, which operates under the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, to prepare media programs and materials to raise awareness about the dangers of terrorist acts and the suffering they cause.

He highlighted that the council’s efforts go beyond raising awareness to taking concrete measures to support the victims of terrorist acts, including members of the Arab security services and their families.

Koman said that these efforts include the establishment of an Arab security solidarity fund to cover the expenses of medical, social, and psychological support for Arab police and security personnel and their families, in addition to the development of a model for the organizational structure of a department in the security services specializing in psychological counseling.

“The department will be operated by social workers and psychologists who have the capacity to help victims overcome the pain and tragedy of terrorism,” he said.

Koman praised the efforts of Arab countries in assisting the victims of terrorist acts and alleviating their suffering, including providing financial and moral support and providing them with treatment and privileges, such as monthly wages, scholarships for their families and medals of honors to their martyrs.

He urged public and civil society institutions to develop awareness-raising efforts through holding seminars and organizing events to remember the suffering of the victims and provide them with social, psychological and financial support.

Koman concluded by saying a prayer for the victims harmed by terrorist acts and members of the security services who died foiling terrorist crimes and fighting terrorists.