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The Pope in Morocco

The Pope has been warmly welcomed to Morocco at the start of a two day visit to the kingdom.

Pope FrancisIt is his first time in Morocco, and the first visit by a pope in nearly 35 years.

Pope Francis is here at the invitation of King Mohammed VI, who is keen to improve relationships and continue his work for increased religious tolerance.

The Argentinian Pontiff’s first port of call is to see the work of a school, which was set up by King Mohammed VI. The institute trains imams and both female and male preachers of Islam. Later he will visit several social projects that are happening in Rabat.

Another of the duties during his time in Morocco will be to hold a papal Mass at a stadium on Sunday 31st. Around 11,000 people are expected to attend the event.

He will also pay a visit to the mausoleum of King Mohammed V, who famously refused to cooperate with Nazi roundups of Jews during the second World War.

In a video message, filmed to go out to Moroccans before his arrival, Pope Francis spoke of how he was making the trip as “a pilgrim of peace and of fraternity, in a world which has great need of both”.

It is perhaps fitting that this trip to promote religious tolerance is happening in 2019, exactly 800 years after the encounter between St Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt.

Morocco has a long tradition of hospitality, and the Pope is assured of a warm welcome wherever he goes.

This is one of several visits by foreign dignitaries to Morocco that have happened already this year. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, spent three days in the kingdom a few weeks ago, and Spanish King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia were also received by King Mohammed VI in February.

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