Pope Francis accepts Peace River Jordan Gift of Peace
With the blessing of the Vatican, Peace River Jordan presents the Holy Water from the Jordan River, where Jesus Christ was Baptized, to His Holiness, Pope Francis during his visit to Jordan in 2014 blessing Peace River Jordan’s mission to present the Gift of Peace to believers world wide.
Pope Francis Letter of Blessing to the Founder of Peace River Jordan (A Saint Louise Foundation)
KING ABDULLAH II WARMLY WELCOMES POPE FRANCIS TO JORDAN
‘The Land of Faith and Fellowship.’
King Abdullah ll Bin Al Hussein, the Jordanian Monarch of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan represents over 1000 years of rule in the region and continues the Hashemite’s historic role in religious tolerance and the preservation of both Muslim and Christian holy sites and peace in the region. Under the supreme leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Jordan remains the most peaceful Middle Eastern country. Jordan is the central part of the Holy Land and home of the original Christians over 2000 years ago. Jordan is also the home for numerous historical religious sites including Petra, where the three wise men who received a prophecy of Jesus Birth came from, delivering gifts to new born Jesus. (Mathew 2:1-12) Jordan is the home of the world’s earliest known churches, and the most important Biblical site of them all, the Jordan River, where Jesus Christ was Baptized.
The Holy Father, Pope Francis’ historic visit to Jordan in 2014, marked 50 years of Papal visits to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Jordan and the Vatican. While diplomatic relations between Jordan and the Vatican officially began in 1994, they were preceded by decades of contact and diplomatic activities exemplified by Pope Paul VI’s visit to Jordan in 1964, followed by Saint Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2000, and Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in 2009.
His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan has made his position clear in the European Parliament in Strasbourg in February 2016, by saying ‘Arab Christians are an integral part of our region’s past, present and future.’ He added, ‘Jordan is a Muslim country, with a deeply-rooted Christian community. Together, the Jordanian people make up an indivisible society, friends and partners in building our country.’ It is fitting that Pope Francis’ first pilgrimage as the new Pope was directly to Jordan to visit the Jordan River, the most important Christian site, the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. He brought messages of tolerance, peace and coexistence and praised Jordan’s efforts to seek lasting peace for the entire region.’ where under the leadership of King Abdullah Christians are not merely tolerated but live in peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between Muslims and Christians in Jordan.
On his arrival, Pope Francis was received and welcomed by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad and a number of local dignitaries and clergy, before proceeding to Al Husseinieh Palace in Amman, where he was received by their Majesties King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, Queen Rania Al Abdullah and The Crown Prince, Hussein II Ibn Abdullah
In Al Husseinieh Palace both His Holiness and King Abdullah exchanged gifts Jordan s King Abdullah II, center right, with his wife Queen Rania, standing behind him, talks with Pope Francis as their four children listen at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan, Saturday, May 24, 2014
King Abdullah ll, a strong advocate for religious tolerance, warmly welcomed Pope Francis to the ‘Land of Faith, Land of Fellowship’ on behalf of all Jordanians and expressed his appreciation of the Pope’s messages of friendship and peace. ‘Muslims everywhere appreciate your message of esteem and friendship. In addition to being the successor of Saint Peter, Your Holiness, you have become a conscience for the whole world.’ King Abdullah said. ‘Since becoming Pontiff, you have reminded us, in word and in deed, that “Pontiff” means ‘bridge builder.’ Jordanians, too, are building bridges’ King Abdullah added. In line with Jordanian values of moderation and religious cohesion, Jordan heads numerous intra-faith and inter-faith initiatives in order to promote plu-ralism in Jordan, the region, and the world. These initiatives have gained inter-national relations.
Pope Francis offered affectionate greetings to King Abdullah and to all citizens of Jordan, hoping that his visit will help advance good and cordial relations between Muslims and Christians within the region. He also commended Jordan’s efforts in promoting values of moderation and religious cohesion through its numerous intra-faith and inter-faith initiatives.
‘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.’ His Holiness said. ‘I would 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 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 peacefully, in a climate of respect for religious freedom.’ Pope Francis continued.
In the afternoon, Pope Francis celebrated mass at the International Stadium in Amman on May 24, 2014. The stadium was filled with over 50,000 worshippers and well-wishers from Jordan, the region and around the world. Jordan clearly showed an example to the world that religious tolerance and peace is attainable in the Middle East region. Audience members chanted. ‘Long live the Pope.’ and waved the flags of both Jordan and the Vatican, in addition to flags of their home countries; Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Spain, Italy, Argentina and France.
Upon his arrival, Pope Francis toured the stadium in an open-top car, greeted the eager crowd, and conducted a two hour mass throughout which he bestowed Holy Communion to 1,400 children.
Pope Francis Visits the Jordan River
After the Holy Mass was concluded, Pope Francis headed to the Baptism Site, at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, where he was received by King Abdullah to hold the third papal mass at the Jordan River where Jesus was Baptized. Jordan has largely maintained the beauty of the area s natural environment of leafy trees, long reeds and tall grass just as it was when Jesus walked the paths of the Baptism site in Jordan.
Pope Francis visited the wilderness on the eastern banks of the Jordan River in Jordan, associated with the biblical prophets Elijah and John the Baptist. The Bible teaches that Jesus came here to be baptized by his cousin before beginning his public ministry. It is here where all four Gospel writers tell of the Spirit of God descending like a dove upon Jesus, thus marking the proclamation of the one God and Holy Trinity and marking the place where Christianity began.
Pope Francis stood by the archaeological remains of five churches built over time by early Christians to commemorate the very place where Jesus was baptized to experience the spiritual dimension of the Baptism of Jesus site and walk in Jesus footsteps. There are remains of churches, monks caves, and baptismal pools from centuries ago. At the exact site of Jesus Baptizm, Pope Francis paused in silent reflection. Then he made his way to another spot on the Jordan River where as Pope Paul VI did before him in 1964, he spent a few moments alone in prayer and reflection. He then joined the waiting assembly outside of the Latin Church, still in construction. Before entering the church, the Pope took several minutes to write a personal note in the church guest book.
Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, welcomed Pope Francis to the intimate gathering inside the church and said, Our Church, together with the Jordanian government, is pleased and proud to present to the world this holy place where the Baptism of Jesus Christ took place and where our Lord s public life began. Following in your footsteps, we invite the Christian world to visit this site and learn more about our roots and our ecclesial life. For many, this river is a border. For the Latin Patriarchate, which includes Cyprus, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, it is more a bridge that unites, a call to communion and unity.
Pope Francis also held a special meeting with around 400 young Syrian and Iraqi refugees as well as children with disabilities to shed light on the plight of refugees and the vulnerable. Despite your difficulties in life, you are a sign of hope.
You have a place in God s heart and in my prayers. I am grateful that so many of you are here, and for your warmth and enthusiasm. Pope Francis listened intently as several of the vulnerable shared their personal sto-ries in front of all assembled. Disabled students from the Our Lady of Peace Center in Amman, with the help of volunteers from Caritas, a humanitarian organization affiliated with the Catholic Church presented a special gift to the pope, a framed collection of the children s handprints and photos. One 11 year old cancer patient told the pope of his journey of blessing, not misery, and then spent several moments quietly talking with Pope Francis. The as-sembly ended with music and spontaneous cheers. It was a fitting ending to a day filled with prayers for peace, joy, worship, comfort, and encouragement.
Pope Francis left Jordan carrying His Majesty King Abdullah II’s messages of peace within the Middle East.