12 Notes & Comments

posted Apr 4, 2019, 9:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 4, 2019, 9:45 AM ]

Pope Francis visits Morocco

Christopher Lamb, thetablet.co.uk

Pope Francis used the first day of a visit to Morocco to showcase how his pontificate is becoming a bulwark against political forces which combine a closed-door policy to migrants with hostility to Islam. During his 27-hour trip to the Muslim-majority country, the Pope told a group of migrants they were at the "centre of the Church's heart", while urging Muslims and Christians to join forces to counter "fanaticism and extremism" and to stand firm against the exploitation of their religion to foment conflict and division. For the Argentine Pope, the Morocco visit neatly combines two major priorities of this pontificate—the global refugee crisis and building bridges with Islam.

The 82-year-old Roman Pontiff arrived in a rainy Rabat on Saturday, March 30, following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II who, in 1985, became the first Pope to visit the North African Muslim-majority country. On his arrival, Pope Francis was greeted at the airport by King Mohammed VI. His popemobile was cheered by crowds, as he made his way to the Hassan Tower, the minaret of an incomplete 12th century mosque, alongside the Moroccan King who travelled in a parallel motorcade, and stood up to wave at people through the sunroof of his car.

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Does Pope Francis not want people to kiss the papal ring?

Christopher Lamb, thetablet.co.uk

There is no mention of it in the Gospels, nor is it a matter of Church doctrine or apostolic tradition. But the question of whether or not to kiss the ring of a Pope has been the subject of intense debate among Catholics, after a video of Pope Francis awkwardly withdrawing his hand from some people greeting him at a shrine in Loreto went viral.

The custom of kissing the ring of the Pope, or any bishop, was developed as a way of showing respect for the office that individual held, and is also linked to kissing the hands of a newly ordained priest as a sign of respect for the Sacraments that he will now bring to the people.

One of the symbols of the papal office is the 'Fisherman's ring' (St Peter, the first Pope, was a fisherman) which dates back to the 13th century, as it was used to seal documents. Pope Francis only wears the fisherman's ring for special ceremonies, and prefers to wear the one he had as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, in Argentina.

A few caveats are needed before the Pope Francis critics jump to the assumption that he is doing away with "yet another" tradition.

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