Visiting a country used as a launch point for Africans and others trying to reach Europe, Pope Francis took aim Saturday at the world’s hardening anti-migrant sentiments and said problems could never be solved by “raising barriers” or “fomenting fear of others”, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Morocco has a minuscule Roman Catholic population, but the North African country — separated from Spain by a mere eight-mile-wide strip of water — served as a fitting stage for Francis’s emphasis on migration. For Francis, it has become a personal priority that has gained more urgency amid shut-the-door political movements in the United States and across Europe, the WSJ adds.
Francis also used the visit to highlight Morocco as a moderate example of Islam, and made a case for Christian-Muslim cooperation just two weeks after hate-fueled mosque shootings in New Zealand that claimed 50 lives.
Vatican News reports that shortly after his arrival in Rabat on Saturday, and following the official welcome ceremony and speeches, Pope Francis signed a special appeal, together with King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
“The appeal recognizes the “uniqueness and sacredness of Jerusalem”, and calls for the city to be preserved as a “common heritage of humanity and especially for the faithful of the three monotheistic religions, as a meeting place and symbol of peaceful coexistence, where mutual respect and dialogue are cultivated”.
To this end they ask that “the specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension, and the peculiar cultural identity of Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif must be preserved and promoted”.
“It is our hope, therefore”, concludes the appeal, “that in the Holy City, full freedom of access to the followers of the three monotheistic religions and their right to worship will be guaranteed, so that in Jerusalem / Al-Quds Acharif they may raise their prayers to God, Creator of all, for a future of peace and fraternity on the earth”.
Via Vatican News / Wall Street Journal