War in Iraq Would Rattle Morocco, Warns Bishop

Prelate of Rabat Invites Missionaries to North African Nation

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ROME, FEB. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- A bishop in Morocco warns that the ripple effects of a military attack on Iraq would be felt in North Africa.

«A possible war in Iraq entails a catastrophic risk for us, and ‘us’ does not only mean Catholics but all the population of Morocco,» Bishop Vincent Landel of Rabat said.

«Pray for all the Arab world, not only for Moroccan Christians,» the bishop said at the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of Rome, in the context of a round-table discussion with bishops of North Africa, who are on their quinquennial visit to the Holy See.

Given the phenomenon of emigration of Moroccan citizens to Europe, Bishop Landel exhorted the latter to assume its responsibility to avoid «the Strait of Gibraltar becoming a cemetery.»

«The immigrants who come from the sub-Saharan area, often stay in Morocco without the possibility of realizing the dream of crossing the strait to arrive in Spain, in Europe,» the bishop said.

In fact, the future of the Catholic Church in Morocco depends on sub-Saharan young people, students who come to Morocco to attend university, he said.

Bishop Landel appealed to religious congregations and missionaries to go to his country and «not be afraid,» explaining that «in Morocco the faith is lived in full freedom and the Catholic Church has been recognized for 20 years in a formal and cordial letter between the king of Morocco and the Pope.»

Morocco has 30,000 Christians, all of them foreigners, in a population of 31 million inhabitants. There is an «exciting» presence of men and women religious who «represent the universality of the Church that is being built around Jesus Christ and Morocco,» he said.

It is the only country in North Africa with four contemplative monasteries, including one in Casablanca made up of Mexican nuns.

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