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General Audience: Pope Recalls Highlights of Morocco Visit (Full Text)

‘My pilgrimage followed in the footsteps of two Saints: Francis of Assisi and John Paul II.’

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This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.
In his address in Italian, the Pope focused his meditation on his Apostolic Journey to Morocco, which just ended (Biblical passage: From the Gospel according to Matthew 13:33).
After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal on the occasion of the 6th International Day of Sports for Peace and Development, launched by the United States and being observed today.
The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
The Holy Father’s Catechesis
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Last Saturday and Sunday I undertook an Apostolic Journey to Morocco, invited by His Majesty King Mohammed VI. To him and to the other Moroccan Authorities I renew my gratitude for the warm reception and for all the collaboration, especially to the King: he was so brotherly, so friendly, so close.
Above all I thank the Lord, who permitted me to take another step on the path of dialogue and encounter with Muslim brothers and sisters, to be — as the motto of the Journey stated — “Servant of Hope” in today’s world. My pilgrimage followed in the footsteps of two Saints: Francis of Assisi and John Paul II. 800 years ago, Francis took the message of peace and fraternity to Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil; in 1985, Pope Wojtyla carried out is memorable visit to Morocco, after having received in the Vatican — first among the Muslim Heads of State — King Hassan II. However, some might ask: why does the Pope go to the Muslims and not just to Catholics? Why are there so many religions, and why ever are there so many religions? With the Muslims we are descendants of the same Father, Abraham: why does God permit so many religions? God willed to permit this: the theologians of Scholasticism referred to God’s permissive voluntas. He willed to permit this reality: there are so many religions; some are born of the culture, but always looking to Heaven, looking at God.  However, what God wills is fraternity among us in a special way — here is the reason for this trip — with our brothers, children of Abraham like us, the Muslims. We must not be scared by the difference: God has permitted this.  We must be scared if we don’t act with fraternity, to walk together in life.
To serve hope, at a time like ours, means first of all to build bridges between the civilizations. And it was a joy and an honor for me to be able to do so with the noble Kingdom of Morocco, meeting its people and its rulers. Remembering some important international summits that in the last years have been held in that country; with King Mohammed VI we confirmed the essential role of religions in defending human dignity and promoting peace, justice, the care of Creation, that is, our common home. In this perspective, we also signed together with the King an Appeal for Jerusalem, so that the Holy City is preserved as patrimony of humanity and place of peaceful encounter, especially for the faithful of the three monotheist religions.
I visited the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, paying homage to his memory and that of Hassan II, as well as the Institute for the Formation of Imams, of men and women preachers. This Institute promotes an Islam respectful of other religions and rejects violence and fundamentalism, namely, it stresses that we are all brothers and we must work for fraternity.
I dedicated particular attention to the migratory question, either speaking with the Authorities or especially attending the meeting dedicated specifically to migrants. Some of them witnessed that the life of one who emigrates changes and becomes human again when he finds a community that receives him as person. This is essential. In fact, ratified at Marrakech in Morocco, last December was the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” — an important step towards the international community’s assumption of responsibility. As Holy See, we offered our contribution, which is summarized in four verbs: receive the migrants, protect the migrants, promote the migrants and integrate the migrants. It’s not about planning welfare programs from the top, but about undertaking together a path through these four actions, to build cities and countries that, although keeping their respective cultural and religious identity are open to the differences and are able to appreciate them in the sign of human fraternity. The Church in Morocco is very committed in her closeness to the migrants. I don’t like to say migrants; I prefer to say migrant persons. Do you know why? Because <the word> migrant is an adjective, whereas the term person is a subject. We have fallen into the culture of the adjective: we use so many adjectives and very often we forget the subjects, namely, the substance.  An adjective is always linked to a subject, to a person; therefore, a migrant person. So there is respect and one doesn’t fall into this culture of the adjective, which is too liquid, too gaseous. The Church in Morocco, I was saying, is very committed to closeness with migrant persons, and, therefore, I wished to thank and encourage all those that render service to them with generosity, fulfilling Christ’s word: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35).
Sunday was dedicated to the Christian community. First of all, I visited the Rural Center of Social Services, run by the Sisters Daughters of Charity, the same that do here the dispensary and clinic for children, here at Saint Martha’s, and these Sisters work with the collaboration of numerous volunteers; they offer various services to the population.
In the Cathedral of Rabat, I met with priests, consecrated persons and the Ecumenical Council of Churches. It’s a small flock in Morocco, and so I remembered the evangelical images of salt, of light and of leaven (Cf. Matthew 13-16)l 13:33), which we read at the beginning of this Audience. What matters isn’t the quantity but that the salt has flavor, that the light shine, and that the leaven have the force to make the whole dough ferment. And this doesn’t come from us, but from God, from the Holy Spirit who makes us witnesses of Christ where we are, in a style of dialogue and friendship, to be lived first of all among us, Christians, because — Jesus says — “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  And the joy of ecclesial communion found its foundation and full expression in the Sunday Eucharist, celebrated in a sports complex of the capital. There were thousands of people of some 60 different nationalities! — a singular epiphany of the People of God in the heart of a Muslim country. The parable of the merciful Father made the beauty of God’s plan shine in our midst, who wants all His children to take part in His joy, in the feast of forgiveness and reconciliation. Entering this feast are those that acknowledge themselves needy of the Father’s mercy and who are able to rejoice with Him when a brother or a sister returns home. It’s no accident that there, where the Muslims invoke every day the Clement and Merciful One, the great parable of the Father’s mercy resounded. It’s so: only one who is reborn and lives in this Father’s embrace, only those that feel themselves brothers, can be servants of hope in the world.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
 In Italian
 A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I’m happy to receive the participants in the Course for Rectors and Vice-Rectors of the Major Seminaries in Mission Territories, as well as those at the International Studies Seminar “The Family as Place of Growth.”
I welcome the faithful, together with the Administrators, the Associations and the Schools that are taking part in the peace project “Olive Tree of Friendship.”
I greet the parish groups, in particular, those of Grosseto, accompanied by the Bishop, Monsignor Rodolfo Cetoloni; of Fondi, of Filetto and of Gragnano; the Italian Center of Salesian Women’s Works of Professional Formation; the Agesci Scout Group of Villanova di Castenaso and the school Institutes.
A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
May the Lent we are living foster greater closeness to God. It’s a precious time to rediscover the importance of faith in daily life that, lived through the exercise of the works of mercy, may revive in us love of the Father and make us more aware of the needs of those in need.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
 The Holy Father’s Appeal
 Observed today is the International Day of Sport for Peace and Development, launched by the United Nations. Sport is a universal language, which embraces all peoples and contributes to overcome conflicts and to unite people. Sport is also a source of joy and great emotions, and it’s a school where virtues are forged for the human and social growth of persons and communities. I hope that all will get involved in life as in sport.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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Virginia Forrester

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