The first major event of Francis’ visit to the Holy Land will be his meeting with the Jordanian leadership: “I have profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community”. The Pope sent out an appeal to the religious community. “You have become the entire world’s conscience,” King Abdullah said.
Pope Francis’ first words upon landing in the Jordanian capital Amman, were words of thanks to the country for taking in refugees and for the ceasefire in the Syrian conflict. Francis was welcomed by King Abdullah and bin Al Hussein –the only monarch to have already been received twice by the Pope in the Vatican – and Queen Rania, at the royal palace in Amman. After a private meeting and after greeting the royal family, the Pope addressed three hundred top figures in the kingdom, including religious leaders.
King Abullah welcomed the Pope saying: “Holy Father, you have committed yourself to dialogue, particularly with the Muslim world. You are not only Peter’s successor but have become the entire world’s conscience.”
“This country still generously welcomes a large number of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as refugees from other areas facing a crisis, particularly neighbouring Syria, which has been shaken by a conflict that has gone on for too long. This welcome deserves the respect and support of the international community.” The Pope recalled the Church’s commitment to Caritas Jordan.
He then asked, once again, for an end to violence in Syria and for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. “A peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis is urgently needed, as well as a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Francis also expressed his “profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community.”
The Pope greeted Christian communities “present in the Country since the Apostolic times.” “Although they are a minority in terms of numbers, they are in a position to make a valuable contribution in the fields of education and health, in schools and hospitals and can profess their faith freely, enjoying religious freedom, which is a basic human right and which I hope will be taken into account in all parts of the Middle East and the world as a whole…”
Religious freedom, the Pope explained, also “involves” “the freedom to choose the religion one believes to be true and to publicly express one’s own belief.”