This weekend, Pope Francis is going to make a fast trip to Morocco, in order to promote inter-religious dialogue and support endeavour by the North African nation’s King Mohammed VI to spread a balanced form of Islam.
Francis, who would be spending only about 27 hours in the nation, would be making his first visit and also the first by a Pope since 1985.
Morocco, which is nearly 100% Muslim nation, has marketed itself as a haven of religious tolerance in a region ripped by militancy and has provided training to Muslim evangelist from Africa and Europe on what it calls as ordinary Islam.
Shortly after he reaches Morocco on Saturday, Francis along with the King would be visiting an institute the monarch established in 2015 for the training of imams and male and female missionary of Islam. The Vatican stated that it would be the first time a pope would be visiting such a school.
Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti told reporters during a briefing on the trip on Thursday that the king is very dedicated to holding fundamentalist propensity and the school is a very important place, not only for Morocco but also for the Maghreb.
Two student clerics- one from Europe and one from Africa – would be telling the pope and the King about their experiences.
In a video message to Moroccans, Francis stated that he was making the trip as an “a pilgrim of peace and of fraternity, in a world which has great need of both”. He said Christians and Muslims had to respect each other’s diversity and help each other.
Roman Catholics – most of them expatriate Europeans, chiefly French, and sub-Saharan African immigrants – make up less one per cent of the population of about 35 million. With only about 23,000 Catholics in the nation, nearly half of them would be attending a papal Mass at a stadium scheduled on Sunday.
“Foreign Christians” like Thiphaine and Moroccan Jews, who are perceived by the constitution, are permitted to worship openly. However, the authorities don’t acknowledge Moroccan converts to Christianity and thus many of them worship secretly in homes.
Conversion from Islam to Christianity is prohibited, as it is in many Muslim nations – and proselytizing is culpable by up to three years in prison.