April 14-16, 2000
volume 11, no. 75
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Recalls Historic Papal Visit to Country

    VATICAN CITY, APR 13 ( A descendant of Mohammed visited the Vatican this morning. The Holy Father highlighted this when he received young King Mohammed VI of Morocco in audience. The King was accompanied by an entourage of 16 persons, among whom were two women. The sovereign said he felt very honored to be named after Allah's Prophet.

    The King of Morocco arrived at the Vatican around 11 a.m. and had a 15-minute meeting with the Pope in the library. An official photograph was taken and gifts exchanged. King Mohammed VI gave the Pope a curved dagger with an ivory handle, and the Holy Father gave the sovereign a statue of the Virgin.

    Sidi Mohammed, as the King is called, was born in 1963. From his earliest years he was trained to succeed his father, Hassan II, on the Moroccan throne. On May 23, 1980, Hassan II held a referendum on the coming of age of the princely heir, which was lowered from 18 years to 16, and the Regency Council was also modified. The majority approval placed Sidi Mohammed in a position of high political responsibility; he assumed the Moroccan representation in the majority of official events. When Hassan II died on July 23, 1999, after reigning 38 years, his son became the 18th representative of the Alaui dynasty, taking the name Mohammed VI.

    Since 1997, Morocco has been undergoing a process of democratization. Out of a total of 27 million inhabitants, 98% are Muslim and only 1.1% Christian. The judicial system of this North African country is based on French and Islamic law. The death penalty is enforced.

    John Paul II made a historic visit to Morocco 15 years ago, on August 19, 1985. His meeting in the Casablanca Stadium with 80,000 Muslim youths will pass into the history of the country and this pontificate. In the address he delivered on that occasion, the Pontiff emphasized the common faith of Christians and Muslims in the one, just and merciful God, foundation of common human and religious values.

    The Pope called for the overcoming of all types of discrimination, and requested that the dialogue between Christians and Muslims be urgently promoted. At the same time, he insisted on the need that each one witness to his own faith, in an increasingly secularized and, at times, atheist world. In the midst of applause from Moroccan youth, John Paul II affirmed the need for Christians and Muslims to respect one another mutually, in spite of their differences. "There is a mystery here that, I am sure, God will illuminate for us one day," the Bishop of Rome said. ZE00041311


April 14-16, 2000
volume 11, no. 75

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