Print Version    Email to Friend
Fear division not differences pope says

VATICAN (CNS): As is customary, Pope Francis reviewed his March 30 to 31 trip to Morocco, at his general audience on April 3. 
“People might ask themselves, ‘Why is it the pope visits Muslims and not just Catholics?’” the pope said.
He reminded people that Catholics and Muslims are both “descendants of the same father, Abraham,” and the trip was another step on a journey of “dialogue and encounter with (our) Muslim brothers and sisters.”
The pope said he wanted to follow in the footsteps of two great saints: St. Francis of Assisi, who brought a “message of peace and fraternity” to Sultan al-Malik al-Kami 800 years ago, and St. John Paul II, who visited Morocco in 1985.
Pope Francis said people might also wonder why God allows there to be so many different religions in the world.
Some theologians say it is part of God’s “permissive will,” the pope said, allowing “this reality of many religions. Some emerge from the culture, but they always look toward heaven and God.” 
The pope stressed, “What God wants is fraternity among us which is why we must not be frightened by difference. God has allowed this,” however, it is right to be worried when people are not working toward a more fraternal world, he added.
“But we should be frightened if we are not doing the work of fraternity, of walking together in life” as brothers and sisters of one human family, he said.
Pope Francis’ comment about God’s permissive will (voluntas permissiva) clarified a controversy that erupted during his February trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
He and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb—a leading authority for many Sunni Muslims—signed a document on human fraternity that said, “The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings.”
In his audience talk on April 3, the pope clarified that God did not create religious diversity, but rather allows it to happen, as he created human beings who possess free will.
During the general audience, the pope also spoke about the many encounters and events during the two-day trip, making special mention of his visit with migrants—some of whom told him how their lives only became “human” again when they found a community that welcomed them as human beings.
“This is key,” the pope said.
The Vatican supported the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which was adopted by the majority of United Nations member states at a conference in Morocco in December 2018, so that the international community could strengthen an approach that focused on welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants.
“It’s not about assistance programmes coming down from ‘on-high’” but about everyone working together “to build cities and countries that, even preserving their respective cultural and religious identities, are open to differences and know how to see their value” as part of a sign of human fraternity.
Reading from his prepared text about the Church’s work with migrants, the pope looked up at the people in the square and said that, in all honesty, “I do not like to say, migrants,” preferring to say, “people who migrate.”
“We have fallen into a culture of adjectives. We use so many adjectives and sometimes we forget the substantive,” that is, the noun or “the substance,” he said.
When talking about people, it is better to remember the adjective should always go with a noun, “a person,” he said.
“That way there is respect and no falling into this culture of adjectives that is too fluid, too airy” and lacking substance, he said.

More from this section