Keeping the Spirit of the Jubilee Alive|
One Year Ago Today:
POPE ARRIVES IN JORDAN
AMMAN, Jordan (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II arrived in Amman,
Jordan, early in the afternoon of March 20, beginning his long-awaited
pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
The Pope's plane arrived at the Amman airport after a four-hour flight from
Rome; it was accompanied on the last leg of that flight by an escort of Mirage
jets from the Jordanian air force.
At an airport welcoming ceremony, the Holy Father alluded to the
involvement of Jordan in the Middle East peace process, saying, "Although it
has been difficult because it has been a long time, the search for peace must
The Pope was greeted by King Abdallah II as he stepped off the plane, and
seemed energetic as he walked down a long red carpet to meet other waiting
dignitaries, including Queen Rania and members of the Catholic hierarchy
and the country's Muslim leadership under a large colored tent.
In his formal remarks, the Pope remarked that "since the beginning of my
ministry as Bishop of Rome, I have had a great desire" to make a pilgrimage
to the Holy Land. For some months the Holy Father has pointed toward the
Jubilee year as the time for that pilgrimage, but in fact at the very beginning
of his papacy, in 1978, he expressed the wish that he might sometime be
able to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem.
Addressing himself directly to King Abdallah, and saluting both the current
king and his father, King Hussein, for their efforts on behalf of peace in the
Middle East, the Pope said that all believers-- Christian, Muslim, and Jewish-
- should recognize themselves as "one people and one single family." He
added that in the Middle East, "there are serious and urgent questions
regarding justice, the rights of peoples and of nations, which must be
resolved for the welfare of everyone involved." The resolution to these
problems, he said, is "a condition for a durable peace."
King Abdallah, in his own remarks, welcomed the Pontiff as "a man of peace"
as well as "a believer in God" and "a symbol of all that is pure and noble in
this life." Speaking more explicitly about the peace process, he said that he
hoped for a solution that would give hope to the Palestinian people in their
desire for justice, while guaranteeing the security of Israel and the stability
and integrity of Lebanon. He also mentioned the suffering of the people of
Iraq under an American-led embargo.
The Pope, in his talk at the airport, also mentioned the tiny Catholic
community in Jordan, which makes up just about 1 percent of the country's
population. The leaders of that Catholic community were on hand to welcome
him: the Melkite-rite Bishop George El-Murr of Amman, the Latin vicar for
Amman, Bishop Selim Sayegh, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel
Sabbah, who is the president of the assembly of Catholic bishops of the Holy
Land-- a region which embraces Jordan. The Pope pointed out that the
Catholic Church has played an important role in Jordan-- as in the
neighboring lands-- in establishing schools, hospitals, and other charitable
institutions. In Jordan especially, he said, "your noble tradition of respect for all religions" has helped to further the apostolic mission of the Catholic faith.
As the Pope was traveling to Jordan, the Italian newspaper Corriere della
Sera carried an interview with Queen Rania, who had met the Pontiff during
a visit to Rome in September 1999. The queen said that "without a doubt the
Pope will touch the hearts of everyone in Jordan, a country that is
determined to be a model of religious tolerance."
PAPAL PILGRIMAGE: PRAYER AT MOSES' GRAVE
AMMAN, Jordan (CWNews.com) -- On March 20, after being welcomed to
Amman, Jordan, by the country's King Abdallah, Pope John Paul II made his
pilgrimage to Mount Nebo-- where, like Moses, he looked out over the
Situated about 15 miles southwest of Amman, in the middle of the Jordan
River valley, Mount Nebo is about 2500 feet high, and from the peak one can
see far into the hills of Judea and Samaria. Although the Pope's visit came on
a sunny day, a bit of haze in the distance obscured the view of Bethlehem,
Jericho, the Dead Sea, and the skyline of Jerusalem. But the Pope did his best
to make out the various sites, aided by a local Franciscan priest who pointed
out various landmarks to him.
About 20 Franciscan monks welcomed the Pope to Mount Nebo, where a
small metal shelter has been built around the ruins of a 6th-century
sanctuary-- which in turn was built on the site traditionally believed to be
where Moses stopped to look into the Promised Land before his death. There,
inside the ancient walls, the Pope and the bishops of Jordan took part in a
short prayer service, and the Pope prayed on the spot marked as the burial
place of Moses. A children's choir sang Latin and Arabic chants for the
service. After the ceremony, the Pope greeted each youngster individually--
doing so with obvious enjoyment.
Before leaving Mount Nebo for the automobile ride back into Amman, the
Pope prayed for God's help along "each step of this trip to this land-- his
WITHOUT PEACE THERE CAN BE NO DEVELOPMENT IN THE MIDDLE EAST
John Paul II Advocates Peace and Follows in Moses' Footsteps
AMMAN, MAR 20 (ZENIT.org).- Jordan is the first stage of the 91st
international trip of John Paul II, considered by many as "the" trip par
excellence of his pontificate, because of its important spiritual
significance and the expectations awakened in terms of the peace process
in the Middle East.
After a 4-hour flight, the Pope's plane landed in "Queen Alia"
International Airport at 2 p.m. local time. The Pontiff was received by
King Abdala II of Jordan, the son and successor of King Hussein. Cannon
salvos accompanied the Holy Father's steps as he left the aircraft.
As is his custom, the Pope's first gesture was to kiss this soil of this
land, which presented him with an artistic bowl. The ceremony was
solemnized by a parade of the Royal Guard in traditional uniform.
The Pope's first words in Jordan were dedicated to peace in the Middle
East. Addressing King Abdala II, he said: "Your Majesty, I know how
deeply concerned you are for peace in your land and in the entire
region, and how important it is to you that all Jordanians, Muslims and
Christians, should consider themselves as one people and one family. In
this area of the world there are grave and urgent issues of justice, of
the rights of peoples and nations, which have to be resolved for the
good of all concerned and as a condition for lasting peace."
The future lies in dialogue. "No matter how difficult, no matter how
long, the process of seeking peace must continue. Without peace there
can be no authentic development for this region, no better life for its
peoples, no brighter future for its children. That is why Jordan's
proven commitment to securing the conditions necessary for peace is so
important and praiseworthy." At this moment of the Pope's speech, Church
bells pealed in this overwhelmingly Muslim country.
The Holy Father also mentioned the religious reasons for this trip, in
celebration of 2000 years since the birth of Christ. He referred to the
"spiritual" pilgrimage he made to Ur of the Chaldeans last month, and to
his trip to Egypt, which took him to Mount Sinai and has now brought him
to Jordan, a "land sanctified by the presence of Jesus himself, by the
presence of Moses, Elijah, and John the Baptist, and of saints and
martyrs of the early Church." His purpose is precisely to visit those
places in which the presence of God in Revelation changed human history
Finally, the Holy Father said he had arrived in a friendly country.
"Yours is a land noted for its hospitality and openness to all." This
openness enables the country to guarantee religious liberty, "a
fundamental human right." In this way, "all citizens feel themselves
equal, and each one, inspired by his own spiritual convictions, can
contribute to the building up of society as the shared home of all."
In his welcome address, the Jordanian King also emphasized the need the
area has for a lasting peace. He said he was convinced of the
possibility to reach this objective, because "the power of love is
stronger than the conflicts." After recognizing the visit of John Paul
II, the "holy man" of peace, to the Hashemite Kingdom as "historic," the
King continued to ask for peace for all the peoples of the Middle East,
and stated that Jordanians are determined to carry this objective
Visit to Mount Nebo
John Paul II's marathon around the Holy Land continued with a visit to
Mount Nebo. From its 806 meter height Moses was able to glimpse the
Promised Land. The Pope was also able to enjoy the unique view of the
Holy Land from this vantage point, including Bethlehem, the Jerusalem
cupolas, the Jordan valley, the Dead Sea, and the oasis of Jericho. Here
the Holy Father prayed for all people who now live in the Promised Land,
Jews, Muslims and Christians, and for peace among them, in justice and
It was a simple and cordial meeting, in which the hosts were the
Franciscans, responsible for the custody of this monastery, whose
foundations date back to the 4th century. Fr. Michele Piccirillo, the
Superior of this Franciscan community and a great expert in archeology,
illustrated in detail the secrets and meaning of the place. In
remembrance of his pilgrimage, the Holy Father blessed a commemorative
plaque as a gesture of good will for the first stage of restoration in
this memorial to Moses. The restoration of the place, which is venerated
by Muslims, Jews and Christians, will become a symbol of the new era of
peace the region is enjoying.
After thanking the Franciscan community for its hospitality, the Pope
returned to Amman, where shortly afterwards King Abdala II was waiting
for him in his residence for a private meeting. At the end of this
meeting, the Pope went to the Apostolic Nunciature where he will spend
Tomorrow morning, the Holy Father will celebrate the most imposing Mass
in this country's history, during which he will baptize 2,000 children
in the Amman Stadium.
March 20, 2001
volume 12, no. 79
JUBILEE MOMENTS TO REMEMBER