Pope in Morocco stresses need to oppose ‘fanaticism’

Pope Francis is received by Morocco's King Mohammed VI upon disembarking from his plane at Rabat-Sale International Airport near the capital Rabat. (AFP)

Pope Francis on Saturday said it was “essential to oppose fanaticism,” in a speech delivered to thousands of Moroccans shortly after arriving in the capital Rabat.

The “appropriate preparation of future religious guides is necessary,” said the pontiff, who has put interreligious dialogue at the center of his two-day visit to the North African country.

Pope Francis also defended “freedom of conscience” and “religious freedom” as fundamental for human dignity, and called on the faithful to “live as brothers.”

After the arrival ceremony, Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI visited an institute the monarch founded in 2015 for the training of imams and male and female preachers of Islam.

Pope Francis delivers a speech as he and King Mohammed VI of Morocco visit the Hassan Tower esplanade in Rabat. (Reuters)

Pope Francis delivers a speech as he and King Mohammed VI of Morocco visit the Hassan Tower esplanade in Rabat. (Reuters)

Morocco has marketed itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy. It has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.

The Pope, making the first papal visit to Morocco in 34 years, praised the monarch for providing “sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offense against religion and against God himself.”

The king said learning was the only way to combat religious extremism. “To tackle radicalism, the solution is neither military nor financial; that solution has but one name: education,” the king said. “What all terrorists have in common is not religion, but rather ignorance of religion.”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:55 - GMT 06:55
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