Christianity in Morocco

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Roman Catholic Cathedral of Rabat

Christians in Morocco constitute approximately 1.1% (~380,000) of the country's population (34,859,364 - July 2009 est.).[1] Most of them are Catholic and Protestants.

Problematic characteristics[edit]

Article 3 of the Moroccan constitution "guarantees to all the free exercise of beliefs", but the Moroccan criminal code prohibits conversions to other religions than Islam. Conversions of Muslims to Christianity (either proselytization or apostasy) were often in colonial period because laws against such conversions didn't exist yet.

According to Article 220 of the Moroccan Penal Code, "anyone who employs incitements to shake the faith of a Muslim or to convert him to another religion" incurs a sentence of 3 to 6 months' imprisonment and a fine of $16 to $79 (115 to 575 dirhams). Any attempt to induce a Muslim to convert is illegal. Foreign missionaries either limit their proselytizing to non-Muslims or attempt to conduct their work discreetly.

History[edit]

Christianity in Morocco appeared during the Roman times, when was worshipped by Christian Berbers in Roman Mauretania Tingitana, although it disappeared after the Islamic conquests.[2][3]

According to tradition, the martyrdom of St. Marcellus took place on 28 July 298 at Tingis (Tangier). Since the Tetrarchy (Emperor Diocletian's reform of governmental structures in 296), Mauretania Tingitana became part of the Diocese of Hispaniae (a Latin plural) and hence in the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls (Mauretania Caesariensis was in the diocese of Africa, in the other pretorian prefecture within the western empire), and remained so until its conquest by the Vandals. Lucilius Constantius is recorded as governor (praeses) in the mid to late fourth century.

The expatriate Christian community (Roman Catholic and Protestant) consists of 5,000 practicing members, although estimates of Christians residing in the country at any particular time range up to 25,000. Most Christians reside in the Casablanca and Rabat urban areas.[4] The majority of Christians in Morocco are foreigners, although Voice of the Martyrs reports there is a growing number of native Moroccans (45,000) converting to Christianity, especially in the rural areas. Many of the converts are baptized secretly in Morocco’s churches.[5]

Roman Catholic[edit]

There are around 20,000 Catholics in Morocco, most of them are European expatriates, with a big majority of French and Spanish from colonization and post-independence, the second group is composed of Sub-Saharan immigrants, mainly students.

Anglican[edit]

Whilst most areas of Africa (including eastern North Africa) have independent Anglican dioceses and provinces, the western part of North Africa, including the Anglican Church of Morocco, is part of the Diocese of Europe, which is itself part of the Province of Canterbury in the Church of England. There are two permanent chaplaincies, one in Casablanca and one in Tangier. Small groups of Anglicans have worshiped together in Marrakech, but there is no Anglican Church established here.

The Anglican Church of Saint Andrew, Tangier has become a tourist attraction, partly due to certain well-known figures buried in its churchyard.[6] The church is an early twentieth-century replacement for an earlier smaller building, which was built with the express permission of the King of Morocco, on land donated by him.

The Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist, Casablanca, is centrally located, near to the Hyatt Regency, a landmark hotel in the city centre. It has a well-established congregation, and holds two services every Sunday morning to accommodate all worshipers. There is a catechetical programme for children.[7]

Protestant[edit]

Orthodox[edit]

There are three functioning Orthodox Churches in Morocco: a Greek Orthodox Church in Casablanca and a Russian Orthodox Churches in Rabat and Casablanca.[8]

See also[edit]

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ The World Factbook - Morocco
  2. ^ Cook, Paul David (January 2004). In these last days. Xlibris Corporation. p. 470. ISBN 1-4134-4102-5. 
  3. ^ Asiwaju, A.I. (January 1985). Partitioned Africans: Ethnic Relations Across Africa's International Boundaries. C. Hurst & Co. p. 237. ISBN 0-905838-91-2. 
  4. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2008, U.S Department of State
  5. ^ Converted Christians in Morocco Need Prayers
  6. ^ See Tangier tourist website here for details.
  7. ^ Referenced at this website.
  8. ^ Orthodox Church in Morocco

Further reading[edit]

  • (French) Baida, Jamaa; Vincent Feroldi; Ibrāhīm Bū Ṭālib (2005). Présence chrétienne au Maroc, XIXe-XXe siècles. Édition & impressions Bouregreg communication. ISBN 9954-423-97-4. 

External links[edit]