Pope to visit Moroccan imam school to boost moderate Islam


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis will meet with migrants in Morocco and visit a training institute for imams that seeks to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism during his March 30-31 visit.

The Vatican on Saturday released the schedule for the pope’s trip to Rabat, the capital of the North African country.

It comes on the heels of Francis’ recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he signed a landmark “fraternity” document with a leading Sunni imam and sought to encourage moderate Islam and interfaith ties.

Morocco has long considered itself a key ally in the fight against Islamic extremism, and King Mohammed VI routinely criticizes jihadism and the discourses of radical Islam.

But Moroccans have also made up an unusually large segment of Islamic State fighters, and the government for decades has sought to supervise religious teaching of its communities abroad to prevent radicalization.

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During the visit, Francis will meet with the king, the country’s priests and religious sisters and celebrate Mass for the Catholic community. His meeting with migrants is due to take place in the offices of the Vatican’s Caritas charity, while Francis is also planning a visit to a social center outside the city.

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