Pastoral guidelines 2023

Dear friends, dear brothers and sisters,

               In our Church these past two years, we have experienced a unique adventure.  We have learned to walk together, to listen to one another, to dare trust each other, to abandon our personal “bubbles” and certainties, allowing others to confront us at meetings and to be mutually enriched. Basically, we experienced a series of personal and community conversions, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, guided by the Word of God and spurred on by our encounter with others. The Synod, any synod, including ours, is the work of the Spirit.

               At the end of the 3rd phase of the Synod many of you confessed that you had discovered the Church you desired. Today, I, your pastor, recognize the work of God in these two years of sharing and prayer. I feel we are all called to continue to live this synodal conversion which involves going out to all people, welcoming and caring for everyone, thanks to the commitment of each one as well as through spiritual and Christian formation and an ever-deeper knowledge of the country that welcomes us. Only in this way can we become the significant Church that Pope Francis asked us to be when he visited us in March 2019.

               Concrete proposals emerged from the different groups and synodal assemblies. These proposals will allow us to sustain an attitude of constant conversion to the Spirit who is calling us to live in this Moroccan land, even if it is only for a few years. These proposals are now guidelines at the service of our walking together as a Church and with those around us, of our communion and our mission as Christians in Morocco. They will help us integrate the call we received from Christ today to transform our perceptions, our actions, and our relationships within our structures, our gatherings, our parishes, and our homes,

               These proposals are not an end in themselves: they will constantly need to be reformulated and enhanced by returning to the unique experience that was ours during this Synod and which is captured in the document “First fruits of the Synod 2021-2023”.

               Finally, I would like to share with you my profound belief: What you have experienced – this conversion to the ways of Christ – and which you sense is the call of Christ today to our Church, has another name: it is the Kingdom of God already present among us. The proposals you have made are a way of responding to Christ’s command: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33). The Kingdom of God is our goal, our mission, our horizon, and our hope. It is the fruit of our work but, even more than that, it is God’s gift to us, the gift we ask for each time we pray the Our Father saying, “Your Kingdom come”.

               This is why I saw fit, in the light of the Kingdom, to complete your proposals with some new orientations: you will find them at the end of this document. Finally, I will come back to you in the coming months with a “Pastoral Letter” which will reformulate in the words of the Kingdom the orientations of the Synod which you, as People of God, encourage us to adopt and which I, as pastor of our diocese, propose to you today as a path for the future.

            At the beginning of the Synod we asked ourselves the question: “Following Christ, what kind of Church do we want for the diocese of Rabat today? Following Christ is how we have walked together and how we must now continue. Always and in everything let us walk in the footsteps of Christ. He is our guide and shepherd of light. He is the Way, the Light, the Truth, and the Life. Let’s follow him in and through these guidelines!

1. LET US BE A CHURCH OF ENCOUNTER. AN OUTGOING AND MISSIONARY CHURCH.

Our life in Morocco (in and outside the Church) is marked by interculturality and by passage. This does not make meeting and communion easy. In order to remain in the process of synodal conversion, places and attitudes must be favored. In this perspective, we propose the following orientations:

 1.1.            Creation of a diocesan team responsible, throughout the diocese, for stimulating work on interculturality and interreligious matters, in order to grow internal relationships in our Christian community, with Moroccans and with other Christian denominations.

1.2.            In all our Christian communities, create days of fraternity, with regularity and conviviality, which are open to all. It will then be about listening to others, sharing our experiences of life and faith and seeking together to better understand today’s world, particularly Morocco where we live. It is up to us to gradually invite friends of other Christian and Muslim faiths as well as men and women of good will.

1.2.            Promote and generalize Basic Ecclesial Communities (CEB), small Church cells, as close as possible to places of residence, which, alongside the Sunday Eucharist, will meet at least once a month, to share the joys and worries of our life rooted in Morocco in the light of the Gospel, praying together, letting ourselves be taught by others, engaging in small solidarity projects…

1.4.        No meetings without praying together and looking at and listening to the Word of God

1.5.     Continue the “visitations”, from Catholic community to Catholic community in the diocese, from Catholic community to other Christian community (EEAM, Orthodox, Anglicans, house churches, etc.) from Catholic community to Muslim communities and Moroccan associations.

1.6.      Organize regular meetings – at least twice a year – between priests and pastors, or even between Christian communities, with the objective of praying together, nourishing ourselves with the Word of God and reflecting together on our way of being present on this Moroccan land following Jesus and the Gospel.

2. LET US BE A CHURCH THAT CARES, WELCOMES, LISTENS AND ACCOMPANIES. A SAMARITAN CHURCH.

            The path of synodal conversion showed us that the Church must be above all “Samaritan”, expressing its compassion for all (without exception), through the action of all (and not just specialists) and in everything (going beyond the strict financial framework). To do this, we are called to develop the welcoming and listening capacities of our communities. The following suggestions will help us do this.

 2.1.    Creation of a Diocesan Solidarity Council, in which all fragilities, poverty, handicaps and precariousness will be identified and efforts will be made to take them into account. Diocesan Caritas, with its expertise and skills, will belong to this council but there will also be represented the reality of migrants, that of incarcerated people and that of other people that Christian charity invites to take into account. The council will ensure that aid actions are open to as many people as possible and that the aid is structured.

2.2.   Develop pastoral care for those who choose to stay in Morocco (young professionals, families, etc.).

 2.3.   Consider, in conjunction with the Solidarity Council, a pastoral care for migrants that can take into account all the components of their fragile and vulnerable situation, and structure mutual aid and support in the diocese in a coherent manner.

2.4.   Collaborate with Moroccan structures providing assistance to vulnerable people and people in situations of exclusion.

2.5.   Create bridges, think about mutual aid together. Create one or more reception and listening teams in the parishes, with capacity of suggesting, with a view to helping the integration of new arrivals into the Christian community, welcoming Moroccans and tourists who pass by and go to meet those who do not come.

3. Let us be a Church that ensures the participation of all. A Church organized and in communion.

              The Synod proved to us that it was possible to listen to the Spirit, to discern and make choices together, even if most of us only spend a few years in Morocco. Commitment is part of being Christian. The following structures will help develop the participation of all in diocesan and local operations.

 3.1.   Three Councils will structure and lead our local Christian communities in conjunction with the diocesan Councils responsible for supporting, encouraging, leading and evaluating them: 

Ø The pastoral council will ensure that the Christian community, following Jesus, is sent to the world and welcoming to all, that it remains in service and that it allows itself to be guided by the Gospel. 

Ø The Solidarity Council will take into account the most vulnerable members, including students, Moroccan people in difficulty, migrants, sick people, incarcerated people. He will ensure that they are welcomed, listened to, supported and helped. To do this, the council will integrate as much as possible people who experience migration and studies in Morocco, the fragility of age and illness. 

Ø The Economic Council will look after the goods of the Christian community, serve pastoral life, and integrate the needs of solidarity. The Councils will be structured according to available and competent people. Depending on the size of the Christian community, it is possible that a single Council takes into account pastoral life, concern for solidarity and economic management.

3.2.     Following the experience of the synodal assemblies, the Diocesan Pastoral Council will be composed of members of the Bishop’s Councils (priests and consultors, solidarity, consecrated life, Catholic schools, financial), and according to their size, from 2 to 3 members of local Christian communities, including the priest in charge. It will meet twice a year to ensure communion and unity, reflect on the coherence between the needs and expectations of the mission, propose means of animation and mutual aid between parishes and help the Church to become a Church of Morocco.

  • 3.3.   From this Council is formed a Pastoral Coordination Council which will be the permanent Council of the bishop. Made up of 8 people (men and women, lay people, religious and priests), it will help the bishop to lead the diocese towards the Kingdom of God. The bishop will appoint the members of this Council which will meet regularly.
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  • 3.4.   For coherent and evangelical conduct of the diocese, all advisory and animation bodies, all services and responsibilities, will be evaluated each year. Furthermore, there will be a handover for all pastoral activities in the event of a change of responsible. 
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  • 3.5.   In a Church of encounter, welcome and participation, communication is vital. The Diocesan Communication Service will be reorganized and will offer useful tools adapted to today’s needs, at the diocesan and local levels, with the help of relay people in all parishes. 
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  • 3.6.   Welcome and accompany Moroccan people who would like to know Christ better, following the pastoral guidelines proposed by the commission in charge of “new disciples”.

4. Let us be a Church that learns and is formed. A Church in formation.

            The presence in Morocco, with our different origins, the challenge of migration and that of life among a people of different faith alongside many Christian brothers of other denominations questions us and fundamentally questions our faith and our way of perceiving our being in the world. This involves a special effort in terms of formation so that these challenges become opportunities for grace, relationships and growth, and not for fear and withdrawal. The following areas will help us move forward together in this direction.

 4.1.   Create a Diocesan Formation Commission. It will identify needs and resource people and offer targeted, direct and distance training. It will make itself available for events in local Christian communities, like it did for the Summer University for students.

4.2.   Promote and use the training resources of the Al-Mowafaqa Ecumenical Theological Institute (at the diocesan and parish levels).

4.3.   Also take into account (little by little) the formation needs in terms of listening, spiritual life and its support, knowledge of the Bible and the liturgy, Islam and Moroccan culture, support for people in vulnerability… Offer thoughtful catechesis for adults from different cultures adapted to life in the Moroccan Muslim environment.

 4.4.   Offer thoughtful catechesis for adults from different cultures adapted to life in the Moroccan Muslim environment. 

4.5.   Offer training in the language of the country in a concrete way.

4.6. Creation of a Diocesan Liturgy Commission to help Christian communities to promote the acts and actors of the liturgy, to structure liturgies of the Word and to help leading prayer. It will work in close collaboration with the Diocesan Formation Commission, for a liturgy of the Church in Morocco.

5. Let us be a Church respectful of our common home and its environment. An ecological Church.

               Taking into account and caring for our “common home” and its environment were barely mentioned during the synodal process. And yet, they cannot be an option for our Church since Laudato Si’ (Encyclical of Pope Francis of 2015) and Laudate Deum (of 2023). We must be able to work on them in conjunction with those around us (Christians and Muslims). In this perspective, I propose:

5.1 The creation of an Ecological Commission of reflection and proposal, aiming to engage our Christian communities in concrete actions to safeguard our common home, to cultivate our ecological conversion and to practice ecological spirituality with a view to an “ecological Church”.

5.2 To particularly value two days of prayer supported by the Church:

– The Day of Prayer for Peace, January 1rst.

– The World Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation, September 1rst, followed by the month of Creation until October 4th on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

These Days of Prayer can be experienced in an ecumenical and interreligious manner.

Not to conclude but to continue…

I would like to thank God with you for the way that the Lord has worked in our Church over the last two years. I would also like to ask you, each at your level, to collaborate in the implementation of the above guidelines which are the fruit of the work of the Spirit in us.These orientations and these proposals are all open projects. It is not a question of tackling everything at once or achieving them immediately, but of not losing sight of the perspective of permanent conversion to which Christ called us through the Synod.Let us commit together and personally to giving the best of ourselves so that our diocese of Rabat is a sign of communion and fraternity. Let us be a Good News Church for Morocco!A new stage is opening for us today, as a diocese, as parishes, as religious communities, as basic ecclesial communities, as families and as Christians. We entrust it to the Lord and to Our Lady of Morocco, through a new prayer that I ask you to cherish and pray regularly – as you did with the prayer of the Synod – so that what we have received can take shape and life.

In Rabat, November 6th 2023,
+ Cristobal Cardinal LOPEZ ROMERO, Archbishop of Rabat

PRAYER FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH

God, our Father, unique and merciful, You watch over your human family, rich in its cultures and its projects. She is our family on the way towards your Kingdom of justice and peace. Bless our walk together, as brothers and sisters, learning respect for all, giving a place to everyone, accompanying the most vulnerable.

Lord Jesus, we who are your friends, you are our teacher of the Gospel. For our journey of life on this Moroccan land, may your kindness be our walking stick to meet everyone and make them brothers and sisters. May our friendship enter into conversation with those who are different and who suffer.

Holy Spirit, you who are the spirit of communion and reconciliation, refine our intelligence, so that our choices, discerned together and with the participation of all, produce fruits of sharing, hospitality and fraternity and commit us to preserving the harmony of our common home.

Mary, Our Lady of the Way and of the Visitation, pray for us and our Church on the move, until the hour of our Passage towards the common home of the Kingdom of God, where we will all be free and loved. Amen.