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Morocco’s Rabat Cathedral Centenary “opportunity to grow in sense of belonging”: Cardinal

Logo of the centenary of Morocco's St. Peter's Cathedral. Credit: Archdiocese of Rabat

The Centenary celebration of Morocco’s Rabat Cathedral is an opportunity for the people of God in the Northern African nation to grow in their sense of belonging to the Church, the country’s Cardinal has said.

In his Tuesday, November 2 message shared with ACI Africa, Cristóbal Cardinal López Romero says the centenary of the St. Peter’s Cathedral is “a magnificent occasion to rediscover that we belong to the universal Church through a local Church, the Diocese, which welcomes us, makes us grow, educates us, nourishes us, guides us and accompanies us... from birth to death... and even afterwards through prayer.”

“The Centenary of the Cathedral is a wonderful opportunity to grow in our sense of belonging to this Church, and in it and through it, to the Church of Jesus Christ,” Cardinal López says in his message addressed to the faithful.

 

Belonging to the Church, the Archbishop of Rabat says, “is demonstrated by knowing its history and its people, by the attendance and participation in the sacraments and other activities, by commitment to the service of Parish communities, by economic collaboration, by love for all that is ‘our Church.’”

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“We want to take the opportunity of the centenary to honor our predecessors, to thank them for all that they have done and that we now enjoy,” the Cardinal says, and adds, “We must think of the Bishops and Priests (mostly Franciscans) who built, maintained and embellished the Cathedral.”

The faithful, the Spanish-born member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) says, “must live the present with passion; a passion that will not be dedicated, at this moment, to the construction of a stone building, but to the construction of the Church, the Body of Christ, made of the living stones that we are.”

“We commit ourselves to live in fraternity among ourselves, but also with Christians of other denominations, with our Muslim brothers and with all people of good will,” he further says, adding that apart from living the present, the people of God are to “embrace the future with hope.”

“We must live moved by hope: the hope of a better world, of a new heaven and a new earth, the hope of a Church that follows its spouse Christ in his journey with the poor and in the service of humanity, of a Church that is open to all and a sacrament of encounter with all,” the 69-year-old Cardinal says in his November 2 statement. 

St. Peter’s Cathedral was constructed on 17 November 1921. Two years later (1923), when the Apostolic Vicariate of Rabat was created by Pope Pius XI, the church became the Cathedral of the Vicariate, then, and in 1955, the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Rabat.

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In his November 2 message to the faithful, Cardinal López who has been at the helm of Rabat Archdiocese since 2018 outlines some of the centenary celebrations to be launched on November 20.

“We plan to celebrate this centenary from 20 November 2021 to 29 June 2022, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul,” the Archbishop of Rabat who was elevated to Cardinal in October 2019 says.

He continues, “The opening will be celebrated on Saturday, November 20, with a diocesan Mass at 10:30 a.m., led by faithful from all over the Diocese. Many Priests will be concelebrating, following their annual session.”

“The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter on February 22, will allow us to meditate on the work of God in the person of Peter, the disciple on whom Jesus wanted to found his Church,” the Cardinal says.

At the end of March 2022, he says, “an event will be organized to remember the visit of Pope Francis to Morocco, where he delivered a magnificent exhortation to the Priests, Religious men and women and brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations in the Cathedral.”

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“An exhibition of old photos of the Cathedral will be set up, and we propose to all diocesans to bring a photo of the Cathedral from their home to decorate the baptistery of the Cathedral,” he adds.

Cardinal Lopez further announces a prayer marathon proposed by the St. Francis group in Rabat, “from Friday 4th to S 5th December.”

“Lectures on the architecture, history and meaning of a cathedral will be given at Al Mowafaqa throughout the year,” the SDB member further says in his message shared with ACI Africa.

He goes on to encourage the people of God under his pastoral care to undertake a pilgrimage to the Cathedral during the centenary celebrations.

“As a Bishop, it would be my greatest joy in this centenary: that every Christian, every community, every group or Christian movement would make a pilgrimage to the Cathedral,” the Archbishop of Rabat says.

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He cautions, “It is not a cultural visit or an excursion to Rabat, but a real spiritual journey. I encourage and invite all Parishes to organize this spiritual journey... but you can also experience it as a family or in a small group.”

“It is a matter of setting out together (synod!) to come to Rabat, beginning with a moment of prayer and meditation, which can continue during the journey,” the Cardinal adds.

Once in the Cathedral, the Cardinal advises the faithful to “take a guided tour to get to know it better and finish it in the room of reconciliation, to pray together and, for those who wish, to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.”

“I ask the Priests and Laity of Rabat to be available to welcome groups of pilgrims and to accompany them spiritually,” the Local Ordinary of Rabat says, and adds, “I challenge the Parish Priest and the pastoral council of each Parish to organize one or more groups of pilgrims to come to the Cathedral.”

“Logically, you will have to inform the parish priest of Rabat of your intention to arrive on such and such a day... if you want to be welcomed properly,” Cardinal López says in his November 2 message.