The General Audience on Wednesday gave Pope Francis the opportunity to give thanks for his Apostolic visit to Morocco last weekend. In particular, he expressed his gratitude to King Mohammed VI for his warm welcome. Above all, he thanked the Lord for “allowing me to take another step along the road of dialogue and encounter with our Muslim brothers and sisters, as a “Servant of hope” in today’s world.”
Building bridges between cultures
The Pope went on to say that, “To serve hope in our day is to build bridges between cultures, and it was a joy and honour for me to be able to do this in the noble Kingdom of Morocco, meeting both its people and its political leaders.” He recalled that both he and King Mohammed “reiterated the essential role religions have in defending human dignity, promoting peace and justice, and in caring for creation, our common home.”
Another theme of great importance, said the Pontiff, was the question of migration. He noted the Church in Morocco’s commitment towards migrant persons and he remarked that many who have testified have said that “life for those who emigrate changes and returns to being human when they find a community that welcomes them as a person. This is fundamental”, he added.
Continuing on the theme of migration, Pope Francis called to mind the "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration" which was ratified in Marrakech, Morocco, last December.
As the Holy See, the Pope commented, “we have offered our contribution which is summarized in four verbs: welcome migrants, protect migrants, promote migrants and integrate migrants. It is not a matter of dropping welfare programs from on high”, he said, “but of making a path together through these four actions, to build cities and countries that, while preserving their respective cultural and religious identities, are open to differences and know how to value them in a sign of human brotherhood.”
Why so many religions?
In off the cuff remarks, the Pope said that some may wonder “why I go to see Muslims and not just Catholics? Why are there so many religions?" He answered these questions saying, "with Muslims, we are descendants of the same father, Abraham.”
Pope Francis explained that God permits many religions because of his permissive will; He wanted to allow this reality: “there are so many religions, some born from culture, but they always look towards the sky, look to God”, he said.
World Day of Sport for Peace and Development
At the conclusion of the General Audience, the Pope recalled that April 3rd marks the VI United Nations World Day of Sport for Peace and Development.
Pope Francis emphasized that “Sport is a universal language that embraces all peoples and helps to overcome conflicts and unite people.” “Sport is also a source of joy and great emotion”, he said, “and it is a school where virtues are forged for the human and social growth of individuals and communities. I wish you all the best in both life and sport.”