INTERFAITH dialogue, moving beyond “mere tolerance” of religious minorities, is a way to combat terrorism, Pope Francis has said.
On the first day of his trip to Morocco, on Saturday, the Pope said: “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.
“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.”
Crux reported that he said fanaticism and extremism must be “countered by solidarity on the part of all believers, grounded in the lofty shared values that inspire our actions”.
We should move past the concept of the religious minority “in favour of citizenship and the recognition of the value of the person, which must have a central place in every legal system”, the Pope said. Morocco is a country where Christians are a minority.
At the welcoming ceremony, King Mohammed VI of Morocco said: “What all terrorists have in common is not religion, but, rather, ignorance of religion. Today, religion should no longer be an alibi for ignorant people, for ignorance, or for intolerance.”
At a separate event, at which he addressed members of the Christian community in Morocco, the Pope called on Christians in the country to be the “yeast”. “The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant, [like] salt that has lost the flavour of the gospel or lamps that no longer shed light.”
“Our mission as baptised persons, priests, and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion.
“We do this by the way we live as disciples of Jesus, in the midst of those with whom we share our daily lives, joys and sorrows, suffering and hopes.”
There are only 46 Roman Catholic priests in the country.
The Pope also spoke of climate change and the migrant crisis, both of which are issues facing Morocco. He said: “Only together, in patient, judicious, candid, and sincere dialogue, can we hope to devise adequate solutions for reversing the trend of global warming and to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty.”
Pope Francis called the migrant crisis a deep wound that “cries out to heaven”; one that cannot be treated with “indifference and silence”.
He said: “The side of the border on which a migrant stands does not make him or her more or less human.”
He told migrants at the Caritas centre in Rabat: “The Church wants to be at your side to help you achieve the very best for your life; for every human being has the right to life, every person has the right to dream and to find his or her rightful place in our common home. Every person has a right to the future.”