By John Waters
With the papal visit to Morocco concluded, Archbishop Cristobal Lopez Romero of Rabat spoke to Vatican News about the impact of Pope Francis’ visit and his hopes for the future of the small Moroccan Church.
Archbishop Lopez Romero said he is grateful to God for all of the graces which the Pope’s trip brought to the Church in Morocco. He thanked all of the State and Church Authorities who worked to ensure the success of the visit and highlighted 3 topics addressed by the Pope as being of particular interest to Moroccans.
“Let's start with interreligious, Islamic-Christian dialogue: we think that, with what the King and Pope said, we can take a step forward. So far there has been much talk of ‘coexistence’ and ‘tolerance’, but the King has said that tolerance is ‘little’. I also said this after a year: that is, that we must move on to friendship, mutual knowledge, mutual enrichment: to build together universal fraternity starting with ourselves. We must make a qualitative leap in the Islamic-Christian dialogue: I do not know if we will be able to do it, but it is our work starting from this moment,” said Archbishop Lopez Romero.
Addressing the issue of migration, the Archbishop noted that, as Pope Francis said, migration is a right of the people and he used four words to describe the correct attitude of the receiving countries: “accepting, protecting, promoting, integrating.”
Noting the changes that need to be made in this regard, Archbishop Lopez Romero said, “We must open our hearts. It is necessary that the doors are opened after having opened our hearts. And we need to change the laws of international trade, the economic system, so that everyone can stay in their own country and not be forced to leave their country because of war or for economic reasons. Migration is a right, but it must be able to be done in an orderly way that is respectful of human rights.”
Speaking to the Church’s ministers in Rabat, Pope Francis made a statement on proselytism – the practice of attempting to convert people to a religion by persuasion and argument – which is illegal in Morocco, where the majority of the population are Muslims.
The Pope called on Moroccan Christians not to proselytize. Archbishop Lopez Romero explained why the Pope had chosen his words carefully for his speech.
“There are Christians who do not understand this aspect: the Church does not want to proselytize. Benedict XVI already said: ‘The Church grows not by proselytism but by attraction, by witness.’ This is why we are ‘comfortable’ here in Morocco, where proselytizing is forbidden, because we do not want to proselytize. Our goal is not ‘to increase the clients of the Church’: our goal is the Kingdom of God, that peace may grow, that there be more fraternity, respect for life, more love, and more truth.”