“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?”
Those are the deep questions Pope Francis addressed at his April 3, 2019, general audience in St. Peter’s Square. The answers related to the motto of his just-completed apostolic journey to Morocco: “Servant of Hope.”
“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.”
The Holy Father described the opportunity to visit Morocco as a “joy” and an opportunity to “build bridges” to others, recalling moments in the journey when the three monotheistic religions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim – walked together.
“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 the patrimony of humanity and place of peaceful encounter, especially for the faithful of the three monotheist religions.”
The Pope said he gave particular attention to the plight of migrants during his trip. He noted that Morocco was the site last December for the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”