Pope Francis urges religious communities to charity and dialogue in Morocco

Pope Francis urges religious communities to charity and dialogue in Morocco

Pope Francis greeted Father Jean Pierre Schumacher in Morocco March 31, 2019. His martyred community was beatified in December 2018. Credit: Vatican Media.
Pope Francis greeted Father Jean Pierre Schumacher in Morocco March 31, 2019. His martyred community was beatified in December 2018. Credit: Vatican Media.

.- Pope Francis urged religious communities in Morocco to practice an “ecumencism of charity,” calling for dialogue, not proselytism, in the Muslim-majority country Sunday.

“Charity, especially towards the vulnerable, is the best opportunity we have to keep working to build of a culture of encounter,” Pope Francis told the priests, religious, and seminarians gathered in Rabat Cathedral March 31.

The pope pointed to the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who “at the height of the Crusades went to encounter Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil” and Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the French missionary martyred in Algeria in 1916, who “wished to be a brother to all.”

“When the Church, in fidelity to the mission she has received from the Lord, enters into dialogue with the world and gives her message, she takes part in the advent of that fraternity whose deepest source is not in ourselves but in the fatherhood of God,” he said.

On the second and final day of his trip to Morocco March 30-31, Francis encouraged local priests and religious communities to “continue to be neighbors to those who are often left behind, the little ones and the poor, prisoners and migrants.”

“May your charity be ever active and thus a path of communion between Christians of every confession present in Morocco: ‘the ecumenism of charity,’” he said, adding that charity can also be “a path of dialogue and cooperation with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Christians are called to dialogue “following the example of Jesus himself, who is meek and humble of heart, with fervent and disinterested love, without calculations and limitations, and with respect for the freedom of others,” Francis explained.

He twice warned against “proselytism,” which he said always leads to a cul-de-sac. “Being a Christian is not about adhering to a doctrine, or a temple or an ethnic group. Being Christian is about an encounter,” he said.

“We are Christians because we have been loved and encountered, and not as the result of proselytism. Being Christian is about knowing that we have been forgiven and are asked to treat others in the same way that God treated us,” Francis said.

The pope compared the small Catholic community in Morocco to yeast that is mixed in with flour, leavening all through the Beatitudes and fraternal love.

“The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant, salt that has lost the flavor of the Gospel, or lamps that no longer shed light,” he said.

“Our mission as baptized persons, priests and consecrated men and women, is not really determined by the number or size of spaces that we occupy, but rather by our capacity to generate change and to awaken wonder and compassion,” he explained.

Pope Francis greeted Father Jean Pierre Schumacher, the only surviving member of the recently beatified Tibherine community, French Trappist monks martyred in Algeria in 1996.

“All of you are witnesses of a glorious history. A history of sacrifices, hopes, daily struggles, lives spent in service, perseverance and hard work, for all work is hard, done ‘by the sweat of our brow,’” Pope Francis told the priests and religious communities.

“As disciples of Jesus Christ, may you, in that same spirit of dialogue and cooperation, be ever concerned to serve the advancement of justice and peace, the education of children and young people, and the protection and accompaniment of the elderly, the vulnerable, the disabled and the oppressed,” he encouraged.

Pope Francis blessed the Moroccan religious communities and prayed for the Holy Spirit to help them to bear “the fruit of dialogue, justice, peace, truth, and love, so that here in this land which God loves, human fraternity may grow ever stronger.”

Tags: Religious Life, Catholic News, Ecumenism, Pope Francis, Inter-religious dialogue, Pope Francis in Morocco