Pope: Christians in Morocco like yeast. Mission of compassion, without proselytism
In meeting with clergy, men and women religious and members of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Pope Francis emphasizes that "Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous!" And that "the problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant" . The invitation to dialogue of charity with other Christians and with Muslims, Muslims and men of good will. In Morocco, conversion from Islam to another religion is prohibited. Visit to the Rural Center for Social Services.
Rabat (AsiaNews) - Christians in Morocco "are few in number", but they are a "small amount of yeast" that with "compassion", dialogue and fraternal love, can "making present his kingdom". It is the direction for the present and for the future that Pope Francis gave today to the Catholic and Protestant Christians present in the country he is visiting, in his meeting today with the clergy, religious, and the Ecumenical Council of the Churches, gathered in the cathedral of Rabat.
In fact, Christians in Morocco, although they have a history dating back to Roman times, are - according to the most optimistic statistics - at least 340 thousand. Of these, only 30,000 are Catholics, formed in the vast majority of Western expatriates and Sub-Saharan migrants. Among the Protestants there are also Moroccans converted from Islam, but they live in hiding because apostasy is forbidden in the country, although for some years the death penalty for apostasy has been lifted.
In his speech, Francis emphasizes several times that "Jesus did not choose us and send us forth to become more numerous!" And that "the problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant". For this reason, he rejects "the paths of mission are not those of proselytism": "For being a Christian is not about adhering to a doctrine, or a temple or an ethnic group. Being Christian is about an encounter, an encounter with Jesus Christ. We are Christians because we have been loved and encountered, and not as the result of proselytism.”
Thus the Church must meet the world, living dialogue: "The Church has to enter into dialogue out of fidelity to her Lord and Master, who from the beginning, moved by love, wished to enter into dialogue as a friend and asks us to enter into friendship with him”.
This dialogue is above all "intercession": "Consecrated persons and priests bring to the altar and to their prayer the lives of all those around them; they keep alive, as if through a small window, the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. How beautiful it is to know that, in different parts of this land, through your voices, all creation can constantly pray: “Our Father”."
It is a dialogue that builds "in the name “of the human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal". The Pope quotes the document on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi, speaking 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 ".
And he continues: "A prayer that does not distinguish, separate or marginalize, but embraces the life of our neighbour. A prayer of intercession that says to the Father, “Thy kingdom come”. Not by violence, not by hatred, not by ethnic, religious or economic supremacy, and so forth, but by the power of the compassion poured out on the cross for all mankind. This is the experience of the majority of you."
"In this way, you will unmask and lay bare every attempt to exploit differences and ignorance in order to sow fear, hatred and conflict. For we know that fear and hatred, nurtured and manipulated, destabilize our communities and leave them spiritually defenceless".
We need to build a "culture of encounter", promoting "ecumenism of charity" among Christians, which can involve "our Muslim brothers and sisters and all people of good will". Francis lists the areas: "wounded, tried, excluded"; "At the service of justice and peace, the education of children and young people, the protection and accompaniment of the elderly, the weak, the disabled and the oppressed".
Thanking them for their "humble and discreet service" as missionaries , the pontiff thanked for all, the Superior of the present missionaries, Sister Ersilia Mantovani, 97 years old, an Italian Franciscan, who celebrated her 80 years on March 19 years of religious life.
"Look to the future - he concluded - envisage the future – where the Holy Spirit is sending you” (Vita Consecrata, 110). In this way, you will continue to be living signs of that fraternity to which the Father has called us, without intransigence or passivity, but as believers who know that the Lord always goes before us and opens spaces of hope wherever something or someone appeared hopeless.”. At the end of the event and after the recital of the Angelus, Francis was surrounded by elderly missionaries and some children, who came to greet him.
Before going to the cathedral, the Pope had visited to the Rural Social Services Center "in Temara. The center is run by the Daughters of Charity and gathers together children and families who are assisted by the nuns (see photo).