RABAT, Morocco (CWN) - King Hassan of Morocco told a meeting of religious leaders in Rabat on Monday that a decline in moral values around the world, coinciding with a rise in materialism, have brought about great suffering at the end of the 20th century.

      The king told the gathering of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders that increasing disparities between rich and poor are fueling ethnic conflicts, organized crime, and immoral acts. "These dangers must make us more conscious of the need to confront them and avoid world peace having to suffer from their evil effects...." he said. "They are challenges which are becoming ever more threatening as the powerful countries focus on taking hold of the future of humanity on economic, media, and technological planes, and gamble on the globalization of a pragmatic culture and demagogic materialism."

      In the speech delivered by Higher Education Minister Driss Khalil, the king called on the meeting's participants to draw up a joint plan of action for all religious faithful to work together in bringing about peace and increasing moral values. The king did not address the US-Iraq standoff over weapons inspections or the Middle East peace process which has come to a standstill.

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February 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 35          DAILY CATHOLIC