Pope in Morocco: ‘Ecumenism of charity’ allows religious to be neighbours to all
By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis begins his address by acknowledging that Christians in Morocco are, in fact, a minority. “Yet”, says the Pope, “to my mind, this is not a problem”. He realizes that at times “it can be difficult” for some people. Their situation, he says, reminds him of a question asked by Jesus: “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it?”
The Pope compares the situation of Christians in the country to “a little yeast that Mother Church wants to mix in with a great quantity of flour until all of it is leavened”. Pope Francis explains this metaphor as Jesus calling Catholics in Morocco to a mission, rather than “choosing us and sending us forth to become more numerous”.
Not size but capacity
The Pope goes on to explain this further by saying that the mission of those consecrated men and women present in Rabat’s Cathedral of Saint Peter is not “determined by the number or size of spaces” that they occupy. Rather it is determined by their “capacity to generate change and to awaken compassion”. He specifies: “The problem is not when we are few in number, but when we are insignificant…”.
Pope Francis urges the Christians present not to think that they should be the ‘flour’, in order to be significant. “You know very well that our lives are meant to be the ‘yeast’”, he says. He explains that “being Christian is about an encounter”, and not “about adhering to a doctrine, or a temple or an ethnic group”. Because, he says, “we are Christians because we have been loved and encountered”.
Pope Francis then goes on to express the importance of dialogue. Quoting Pope Saint Paul VI, he says, “The Church must enter into dialogue with the world in which She lives”. This dialogue, continues the Pope, should not be “to follow a fashion”, but rather “out of fidelity”.
Consecrated persons, he continues, “bring to the altar and to their prayer the lives of all those around them”. Through their voices, in all different parts of the land, “all creation can constantly pray: ‘Our Father’”, something which he says, is “so beautiful”. He explains that this beauty stems from the fact that, “dialogue, then, becomes prayer” and is carried out in the name of human fraternity, embracing all people, and making them equal.
For these reasons, the Pope then goes on to thank the Church’s ministers present for their work in Morocco, as followers of Jesus Christ. He urges them to “continue to be neighbours to those who are often left behind, the little ones and the poor, prisoners and migrants”. He also asks that their ecumenism of charity be a “path of cooperation with our Muslim brothers and sisters”.
Finally, Pope Francis urges those present to know that “the Lord always goes before us and opens spaces of hope wherever something or someone appears hopeless”, so as to continue to be the living sign of the fraternity to which God has called them. The Pope urges them to use the Spirit’s help to “bear abundant fruit: of dialogue, justice, peace, truth, and love” so that human fraternity may continue to grow, stronger and stronger, in the Land that is so loved by God.