Royal and Papal Remarks

Welcoming remarks His Majesty King Abdullah II

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Blessings and peace be upon Prophet Mohammad, the last prophet and messenger, the truthful Arab Hashemite.
Asalam Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu
Pax Vobis. 

Your Holiness,

Welcome to Jordan, the land of peace and Muslim-Christian harmony, and home of prophets and saints. Allah says:

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate, 

Yet they are not all alike; some of the People of the Scripture are a community upright, who recite God’s verses in the watches of the night, prostrating themselves. They believe in God and in the Last Day, enjoining decency and forbidding indecency, vying with one another in good works; those are of the righteous. [Al Imran: 113-114]

Saddaka Allahu Al Atheem

 Your Holiness,

On behalf of all Jordanians, welcome!

It is a special honour that your pilgrimage to the Holy Land begins here, in Jordan: land of faith, land of fellowship.
Here, fifty years ago, my late father His Majesty King Hussein welcomed Pope Paul the Sixth – the first official papal visit to a Muslim country.
Here, fourteen years ago, I was privileged to welcome Saint John Paul the Second; and five years ago, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth.
Here, today, Muslims and Christians are building a shared future, on the common ground of mutual respect, peace and devotion to God.

Your Holiness,

Common ground is where the next steps for all humanity must begin.

In our modern era, we face vast global challenges. Not least is the terrible cost of sectarian and inter-religious conflict. But God has given us an invincible defense. Where ideologues spread ignorance and distrust, our joined voices can bring understanding and good will. Where lives have been shattered by injustice and violence, our united efforts can help bring healing and hope.

Indeed, the world is rich with people of good will, who seek to uphold human dignity and peaceful coexistence. Let me acknowledge, with gratitude, your leadership in this cause. You have committed yourself to dialogue, especially with Islam. Muslims everywhere appreciate your messages of esteem and friendship. In addition to being the successor of Saint Peter, Your Holiness, you have become a conscience for the whole world.

Since becoming Pontiff, you have reminded us, in word and in deed, that ‘Pontiff’ means “bridge builder”. Jordanians, too, are building bridges. Our work includes concrete and tangible actions, over many years.

Ten years ago, I was honoured to issue The Amman Message, reaffirming Islam’s call for universal harmony, mercy and justice, and clearly rejecting the false claims of those who spread hatred and sow division.

Jordan is also home to the 2007 initiative, “A Common Word” − reflecting the two great commandments of Islam and Christianity alike: to Love God and Love One’s Neighbour. The people of our two religions − more than half of humanity − are each other’s neighbours, everywhere. “A Common Word” has brought new dialogue between us. Two major Catholic-Muslim forums have taken place, one at the Vatican and one in Jordan. A third such Forum will take place in Rome next November, God willing.

Your Holiness,

As the 41st descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), I have sought to uphold the true spirit of Islam, the Islam of peace. My Hashemite duty extends to protecting the Holy Sites of Christians and Muslims in Jordan and in Jerusalem. As Custodian, I am committed to safeguarding the Holy City, as a place of worship for all and, God willing, a safe home for all communities for all generations.

Last year, Jordan convened an historic regional conference on the challenges facing Arab Christians. Let me say, forthrightly, that Arab Christian communities are an integral part of the Middle East.

Here in Jordan, a long Christian heritage exists in harmony with our country’s Islamic heritage and identity. We treasure this inheritance. Your Holiness, we are delighted that you, like your predecessors, will perform a pilgrimage to the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), at Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Your Holiness,

World peace depends on understanding and co-existence among all people, of every belief. To that end, in 2010, we spearheaded the United Nation's new, annual “World Interfaith Harmony Week”. In recognition, we established an annual prize, bestowed this year on youth and organisations in India, the Philippines, Uganda and Egypt.

Your Holiness,

In the days ahead, may we continue to work together to strengthen accord and meet challenges. Your humanity and wisdom can make a special contribution to easing the crisis of Syrian refugees and the burden on neighbouring host countries like Jordan. We must help Syria regain its future, end the bloodshed, and find a peaceful political solution.

Your actions and support also continue to be needed to help Palestinians and Israelis resolve their long conflict. The status-quo of ‘justice denied’ to the Palestinians; fear of the other; fear of change; these are the way to mutual ruin, not mutual respect. Together, we can help leaders on both sides take the courageous steps needed, for peace, justice and co-existence.

Your Holiness,

You begin your Holy Land pilgrimage with the warm friendship and sincere respect of all Jordanians. May your work be fruitful and bring peace, for blessed are the peacemakers.

Remarks by His Holiness Pope Francis

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies,

Dear Brother Bishops, Dear Friends,

I thank God for granting me this opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I am grateful to His Majesty King Abdullah II for his warm words of welcome, as I recall with pleasure our recent meeting in the Vatican. I also greet the members of the Royal Family, the government and the people of Jordan, this land so rich in history and with such great religious significance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict which has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need, especially through Caritas Jordan.

While acknowledging with deep regret the continuing grave tensions in the Middle East, I thank the authorities of the Kingdom for all that they are doing and I encourage them to persevere in their efforts to seek lasting peace for the entire region. This great goal urgently requires that a peaceful solution be found to the crisis in Syria, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

I would also like to offer an affectionate greeting to the Christian communities present in this country since apostolic times, contributing to the common good of the society of which they are fully a part. Although Christians today are numerically a minority, theirs is a significant and valued presence in the fields of education and health care, thanks to their schools and hospitals. They are able to profess their faith peaceably, in a climate of respect for religious freedom. Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world. The right to religious freedom “includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship… [it also includes] the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 26). Christians consider themselves, and indeed are, full citizens, and as such they seek, together with their Muslim fellow citizens, to make their own particular contribution to the society in which they live.

Finally, I cordially invoke peace and prosperity upon the Kingdom of Jordan and its people. I pray that my visit will help to advance and strengthen good and cordial relations between Christians and Muslims.

I thank you for your courteous welcome.  May the Almighty and Merciful God grant happiness and long life to Your Majesties, and may he bless Jordan abundantly. Salaam!

Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem

As a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad (blessings and peace be upon him), one of the great responsibilities of the Hashemite King of Jordan is to preserve the Arab identity of Jerusalem and protect its Muslim and Christian Holy Sites. 

Hashemite Custodianship over Jerusalem’s Holy Sites is an established fact since 1924.

While Hashemite conservation efforts started in 1919, The Hashemite Fund for the Reconstruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock was establishedin 1954, along with a committee responsible for the maintenance and restoration of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites. Since then, major and regular restoration and maintenance projects have been conducted with the cost of more than one billion Jordan Dinar.

Following the United Nations General Assembly vote granting Palestine non-member observer status in 2013, His Majesty King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a historic agreement reaffirming that His Majesty King Abdullah II is the Custodian of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, and has full right to exert all legal efforts to safeguard and preserve them.

Israel also recognises Hashemite Custodianship of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem in the 1994 peace treaty between both countries. 

In light of Israel’s aggression against Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian Holy Sites, King Abdullah addressed the UN General Assembly in 2012, saying:

“Let me be absolutely clear, any invasion or division of the site of Al Masjid Al Aqsa would be viewed, not only as a breach of Israel’s obligations, but as profound religious transgression. The international community must send a clear message that such a transgression – or any attempt to erase the Arab, Muslim, or Christian identity of Jerusalem – will not be tolerated.”


Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site to 1.7 billion Muslims, one quarter of the world’s population.

KING ABDULLAH II AND JERUSALEM 

Jordan's Interfaith Initiatives

 

Amman Message (2004)

A landmark document that gained the broad consensus of Muslim scholars and leaders, The Amman Message is an invitation to greater understanding and respect among faiths and cultures. It refutes ideologies that advocate violence and sedition in the name of religion. It is a robust answer to those who have depicted Islam as a violent and hateful faith, stirring Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment.

 

A Common Word (2007)

Initiated by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, and endorsed by a growing list of Muslim clerics and scholars representing all denominations and schools of thought, "A Common Word" is a joint message to the leaders of the world's churches and Christians, to embrace the common ground between Christianity and Islam. Described as "the most successful Muslim-Christian interfaith initiative in history," A Common Word has stimulated profound discussions between Muslims and Christians and has paved the way for genuine understanding and engagement.

 

Catholic-Muslim Forum (2008 and 2011)

Building on “A Common Word”, the Catholic-Muslim Forum was established between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Muslim leaders who signed the Open Letter to Christian leaders urging them to engage in inter-faith dialogue. Held twice so far, first in the Vatican and then at the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), Bethany beyond the Jordan, the Catholic-Muslim Forum brought together leading scholars from both religions to foster understanding of each other, enhance mutual respect and further collaboration within the scholarly circles of the two religions. A third Catholic-Muslim Forum will take place in Rome in November 2014.

“World Interfaith Harmony Week” (2010)

“World Interfaith Harmony Week” was initiated by His Majesty King Abdullah, who put it forward to the 56th session of the UN General Assembly, which unanimously adopted it as a UN resolution; henceforth, the first week of February has become “World Interfaith Harmony Week”. Building on this initiative, King Abdullah created an annual award to recognize activities and publications that best contribute to the promotion of inter-faith movements around the world. This year the prizes were awarded to youth in India, the Philippians, Uganda and Egypt.

 

Aal al-Bayt Conference (2013)

The Aal al-Bayt Conference aims to deepen dialogue and reinforce cooperation among the seven Islamic schools of jurisprudence. Bringing together Muslim leaders from around the world, the conference concluded that Islamic principles and democratic ideals complement each other and that the most feasible model of a viable, sustainable Islamic state is a civic state founded on institutions, Shura and justice. 

“The Challenges Facing Arab Christians” (2013)

This conference discussed threats to the historical identity of Jerusalem's Muslim and Christian Holy Sites and affirmed Arab Christians' essential role in their societes.