Pope to visit Morocco in March: Vatican

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 13 2018 09:23 PM

Pope Francis arrives to lead the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, November 7, 2018. Yara Nardi, Reuters/File

VATICAN CITY- Pope Francis will visit Morocco on March 30 and 31, 2019 on a trip that will take him to Rabat and Casablanca, the Vatican said Tuesday.

The pontiff was "accepting the invitation extended by King Mohammed VI and the bishops" to visit the majority-Muslim North African country, it said.

Francis, 81, will be the second pope to travel to Morocco. John Paul II paid a visit in 1985 that was seen as an opportunity to build bridges between Muslims and Christians.

"The late pope's visit to Morocco over 30 years ago drew headlines, as it was the first time a Roman pontiff had been invited to visit a Muslim country by the head of state, not the local church," said a religious website, Cruxnow.

Less than one percent of Morocco's population is Christian.

Francis has already visited several Muslim countries, including Turkey in 2014, Azerbaijan in 2016 and Egypt in 2017.

Morocco is the only trip officially on Francis's schedule for 2019. He is also expected to visit Bulgaria, Japan, Madagascar, Mozambique and Romania next year.

The Vatican said it would be releasing the program for Morocco at a later date.