Pope ‘struck by Jordanians’ ‘generosity’

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Pope Francis has said that he was “struck” by the generosity of the Jordanian people in welcoming Syrian refugees: “the many who flee from war in that area”.

According to Father Imad Twal, a Jordanian priest who attended Wednesday Mass, in which the Pontiff shared his pilgrimage experience in Jordan and Palestine, Pope Francis reiterated his call on the world to help Jordan carry out its humanitarian mission.

“May the Lord bless this welcoming people; may he greatly bless them. And we must pray that the Lord bless this hospitality and ask all international institutions to help them in this work of hospitality that they are carrying out,” said the Pope, as quoted by Twal and the Vatican’s website.

Jordan is hosting more than 600,000 Syrian refugees who joined about 700,000 who were already residing in Jordan before the 2011 crisis erupted, leading to more than 160,000 deaths and millions of displaced persons and refugees.

He said that peace and policy makers should continue working towards easing the tensions in the Middle East, especially Syria, and seeking a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Holy See has invited Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the Vatican, where they are expected to arrive Sunday for a discussion of the peace process, which has come to a halt.

During his Wednesday audience with the faithful, Pope Francis said that his three-day pilgrimage experience to the Holy Land was a ‘great gift for the church’, according to Catholic Church officials.

Father Twal told The Jordan Times that His Holiness spoke about three main aspects of his visit.

“The main purpose of His Holiness’ visit was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras,” said Father Twal.

He said that the Pope considered his meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew, as the culminating moment of the visit where both prayed along with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, and the Apostolic Armenian Patriarch Nourhan, archbishops and the faithful.

According to the Vatican website, Pope Francis encouraged the path of peace saying that, “I did it in Jordan, in Palestine and in Israel. And I did it always as a pilgrim, in the name of God and of mankind.”

The Pope also said, “I exhorted the Christian faithful to allow themselves, with open and docile hearts.”

The Pope said that peace is crafted by hand, and that there are no industries for peace; it is fashioned daily by hand, and with open heart “so that the gift of God may come”.

During His Holiness’ visit to the Holy Land, the Vatican inaugurated an Arabic-language version of the Holy See’s website “as a gift to the Arabic-speaking faithful”, according to Father Twal.

Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop Yaser Ayyash told The Jordan Times over the phone that the results of His Holiness’ visit to the Holy Land are immense, among them the papal prayers for peace in the Middle East.

Archbishop Ayyash said that His Holiness’ visit to the Baptism Site did not only encourage the faithful around the world to come on pilgrimage trips, but is also a confirmation that Jordan has the “only, and authentic” site where Jesus Christ was baptised in.

Archbishop Ayyash said that Pope Francis’ visit eased the tension between people of different faiths, and encouraged interfaith dialogues.

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By Rula Samain