RABAT – Pope Francis performed on Sunday his Angelus prayer in the Cathedral of Rabat in a joint ecumenical act of the churches of Morocco in which he praised the work of religious men and women who work “with the Muslim brothers.”
Sunday’s act began with the traditional welcome in Morocco and members of the numerous religious orders had been invited to the prayers.
These communities are of various nationalities: Spanish, French, Congolese and Mexican, among others.
Representatives of the Evangelical, Anglican and Orthodox cults in Morocco attended the mass.
Before delivering his speech, Francis elicited applause as he paid tribute to two of those present: Father Jean Pierre Schumacher, one of the survivors of the 1996 murder of the monks of Tibhirine in Algeria, and Italy’s sister Ercilia, who at the age of 97 is the nun dean in Morocco.
The discourse of Francis, who was flanked by the Archbishops of Rabat, Cristobal Lopez, and Tangier, Santiago Agrelo, focused above all on praising the work of the religious, whom he encouraged to continue “being close to those who are often left behind, to the small and the poor, to the prisoners and the migrants.”
The work of the religious and their welfare and charity services for the sick, imprisoned, elderly or migrant communities serves to “unmask and expose all attempts to use differences and ignorance to sow fear, hatred and conflict,” he added.
Francis returned to the idea of universal brotherhood that “was hit by the policies of fundamentalism and division and by the systems of insatiable profit and hateful ideological tendencies, which manipulate the actions and destinies of human beings.”
At the end of his speech, the pope performed the Angelus prayer with all the attendees.
Upon leaving the Cathedral he received three gifts that were prepared by the Moroccan people: a small Argan tree, from which the precious oil of the same name is extracted, and two artworks.
One of these works was a sculpture of Jesus carrying the cross by the Tunisian artist Sahbi Chtioui, who settled in Morocco decades ago, and a picture painted by students of the Jeanne d’Arc school, one of the establishments that is run by the Catholic Church in Morocco, although almost all of its students are Muslims.
In Morocco, there are about 25,000 Catholic people, two bishops in Rabat and Tangier and 35 parishes.