May Christ “give you his courage”: that was Benedict XVI’s wish and
mandate to the 20,000 Catholics who filled the International Stadium of
Amman for mass this morning which gave the Pope the opportunity to
underline “prophetic chrism” of women, particularly in this region.
It is the only public mass to be celebrated by the Pope in this nation.
Jordan – which conceded a holiday to Christians today – is in a certain
way a oasis for the regions Christians, who count a little over 100
thousand, 2% of the entire population, but who are free to profess
their faith, build churches and schools and now even universities. All
around the situation is completely different: from tight control in
Syria to violence in Iraq. And there are 70 thousand Christians among
the 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan. They too were present at the
mass, calling out loud in greeting to their Pope. Among the 200
children receiving their first Holy Communion today were 40 Iraqi boys
and girls, some of whom received the sacrament from Benedict XVI.
I come, the Pope told them, “to encourage you to persevere in faith,
hope and love, in fidelity to the ancient traditions and the
distinguished history of Christian witness which you trace back to the
age of the Apostles. The Catholic community here is deeply touched by
the difficulties and uncertainties which affect all the people of the
Middle East. May you never forget the great dignity which derives from
your Christian heritage”. Already on the flight from Rome to Amman,
Benedict XVI had told journalists that his visit aimed at encouraging
Christians in the region to “find the courage, humility and patience to
stay in these countries and offer their contribution for the future”.
“May the courage of Christ our shepherd – he added today – inspire and
sustain you daily in your efforts to bear witness to the Christian
faith and to maintain the Church’s presence in the changing social
fabric of these ancient lands. Fidelity to your Christian roots,
fidelity to the Church’s mission in the Holy Land, demands of each of
you a particular kind of courage: the courage of conviction, born of
personal faith, not mere social convention or family tradition; the
courage to engage in dialogue and to work side by side with other
Christians in the service of the Gospel and solidarity with the poor,
the displaced, and the victims of profound human tragedies; the courage
to build new bridges to enable a fruitful encounter of people of
different religions and cultures, and thus to enrich the fabric of
society. It also means bearing witness to the love which inspires us to
“lay down” our lives in the service of others, and thus to counter ways
of thinking which justify “taking” innocent lives.”. “Let us seek the
intercession of Mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace – he added in the
Regina Caeli – for all the families of these lands, that they may truly
be schools of prayer and schools of love. Let us ask the Mother of the
Church to look down in mercy upon all the Christians of these lands,
and with the help of her prayers, may they be truly one in the faith
they profess and the witness they bear”.
During the prayers of the faithful, a prayer for the “long desired
peace” in the Middle East, Palestine and Lebanon. In one side of the
stadium is a group of Lebanese invites the Pope to come visit them.
Palestinian flags can be seen here and there.
the pope’s visit, a rabbi said that Jews are happy he visited the
Holocaust memorial. “Everyone wants peace and it should come from open
dialogue” between Israel and Palestinians.
There were songs and chants in Arabic and Aramaic, and the great alter
was decorated with images of Jesus, Mary, and John Baptist, patron
saint of Jordan. The crowd paid close attention and was particularly
careful to the proceedings within the stadium, the same place where in
200 John Paul II celebrated mass. Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, the king’s
chief advisor on religious affairs was also present: one of the chief
signatories of the Letter by 138 Muslim scholars and it was he who
accompanied Benedict XVI during his visit to the “al-Hussein bin-Talal”
Mosque in Amman. The Pope thanked him for his presence. During his
address the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouuad Twal, also praised the
stability offered by prolonged wise governance of the country and added
that the Church in this land is witnessing a growth in vocations.
For the Church in the Holy Land this is the Year of the Family.
Benedict XVI recalled this and spoke of the “strong Christian families
of these lands” stressing the role of women in God’s plans. “How much
the Church in these lands owes to the patient, loving and faithful
witness of countless Christian mothers, religious Sisters, teachers,
doctors and nurses! How much your society owes to all those women who
in different and at times courageous ways have devoted their lives to
building peace and fostering love! From the very first pages of the
Bible, we see how man and woman, created in the image of God, are meant
to complement one another as stewards of God’s gifts and partners in
communicating his gift of life, both physical and spiritual, to our
Sadly, this God-given dignity and role of women has not always been
sufficiently understood and esteemed. The Church, and society as a
whole, has come to realize how urgently we need what the late Pope John
Paul II called the “prophetic charism” of women (cf. Mulieris
Dignitatem, 29) as bearers of love, teachers of mercy and artisans of
peace, bringing warmth and humanity to a world that all too often
judges the value of a person by the cold criteria of usefulness and
profit. By its public witness of respect for women, and its defence of
the innate dignity of every human person, the Church in the Holy Land
can make an important contribution to the advancement of a culture of
true humanity and the building of the civilization of love.”.
Benedict XVI also spoke of the “prophetic charism of women” in his
Regina Caeli address. The supreme example of womanly virtue is the
Blessed Virgin Mary: the Mother of Mercy and Queen of Peace. As we turn
to her now, let us seek her maternal intercession for all the families
of these lands, that they may truly be schools of prayer and schools of
The people applaud, and then they slowly begin to leave. Reluctantly: tomorrow Benedict XVI will leave, destination Jerusalem.