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2019.03.30 Viaggio Apostolico in Marocco 2019.03.30 Viaggio Apostolico in Marocco  (Vatican Media)

Pope in Morocco: Sunday with the Catholic community

Pope Francis dedicates Sunday, the 2nd day of his Apostolic Journey to Morocco, to the country's small Catholic community. The number of Catholics in this predominantly Muslim nation is said to be 23,000.

By Paul Samasumo - Rabat, Morocco

There are two Catholic archdioceses in Morocco: The Archdiocese of Rabat and Tangier. Diocesan priests are 15, while religious priests number 31.

Many of the faithful here are from sub-Saharan African countries. These would be expatriates, many African university students, and also many migrants who are either in transist or have decided to stay.

Seeking out minorities

Pope Francis has been consistent in seeking out minorities in his travels around the world, like the mothers and children he visited, Sunday morning, at a social centre in Temara, on the outskirts of Rabat.

They are being cared for by three Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul sisters. Then, on Saturday, he met a small group of migrants at Caritas Rabat. All those who are on the periphery of society are important to Pope Francis.

Sunday morning, when he met the religious in the Cathedral, he told the few priests and consecrated persons in this country that numbers do not mean much. What is important is that their faith be relevant and practically lived. Faith is not an ideology but an encounter with Christ.

Long and venerable history

Though the numbers of Catholics in Morocco are small, the Church has a very long and ancient history.

Père Daniel Nourissat of the Archdiocese of Rabat, in a media briefing, says that the presence of Christianity in North Africa goes back to the end of the Second Century.

This year the Franciscans are celebrating 800 years of Franciscan presence in Morocco. The Franciscans arrived in Morocco during the lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi in 1219.

Catholic Education in Morocco is a strong focus of the Catholic Church here and it is very valued. There are 15 Catholic schools with about 12,000 students and 850 employees.

The schools are in Rabat, Marrakech, Casablanca, Mohammedia, Kenitra, and Meknes.

31 March 2019, 15:49