At the Welcoming Ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI
8 May 2009
It is a great honour to welcome you and your entire delegation to Jordan. With your visit to us, you begin an historic journey to the heartland of faith for Christians and Muslims alike. What is home to us, we make home to you. Here in Jordan, where faith in the One God found ancient roots ... here among the Jordanian people, where faith in God remains central to life itself: we open our doors.
Nine years ago, in the Jubilee Year of Peace, I stood in this place to greet your predecessor, John Paul II. Together, we affirmed the importance of co-existence and harmony between Muslim and Christian. Since that time, events around the world have shown the urgency of our call. Voices of provocation, ambitious ideologies of division, threaten unspeakable suffering. We must reject such a course for our world's future. Today, together, we must renew our commitment to mutual respect. Here and now, we must create a new and global dialogue, of understanding and goodwill.
There is a strong basis for harmony between us. At one level, it is our simple, shared humanity, which binds us in a world of interdependence. But, for we who are believers in the One God, there is an even deeper basis for understanding. That basis is the commandment expressed in the Holy Scriptures of Muslim, Christian, and Jew: to love God, and love one's neighbour. These principles are foundational, and inseparable. As was said by the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him): “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
Jordan is proud to be the home of the Amman Message which articulates, to all humanity, Islam's call for compassion, mercy, and tolerance. The Amman Message affirms the important positive role of faith for human dignity and progress - a need that is not less vital but more so, in our modern age.
Jordanians believe that with our faith, comes responsibility: to live in peace; to lift up the poor and comfort the helpless; to see justice is done; to give hope to the young. This is our country's commitment and the heart of our national community. Our people, Muslim and Christian, are equal citizens under the law; all share in creating our country's future. We place faith at the centre of our daily actions and treasure our religious heritage as a sacred trust. In the noble tradition of my Hashemite family, I have made it my personal duty to preserve our holy sites and welcome the faithful. Soon, at the Holy Place of Baptism, there will be a Catholic pilgrimage centre, which Your Holiness honours by inaugurating this week.
Our welcome to pilgrims is only one way that my country serves global goodwill. We have also committed ourselves to Muslim-Christian understanding. Jordanians initiated the important letter called, "A Common Word Between Us and You." This statement has now been signed by Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world.
We welcome your commitment to dispel the misconceptions and divisions that have harmed relations between Christians and Muslims. You have warmly received the visits of Muslim scholars and others. In turn, your historic visit this week to the King Hussein Mosque - your meeting with Muslim religious scholars - is welcomed by all Jordanians. It is my hope that together, we can expand the dialogue we have opened - a dialogue that accepts our unique religious identities; a dialogue that is unafraid of the light of truth; a dialogue that, rightly, celebrates our deep, common values and ties.
Our shared values can make an important contribution in the Holy Land ... where, together, we must help lift the shadow of conflict, through a negotiated settlement, that fulfils the rights of Palestinians to freedom and statehood, and the right of Israelis to security.
Jerusalem is a special concern for all of us. Jordan and the Catholic Church both know the honour - and the responsibility - of serving as guardians and custodians of holy places and religious sites in Jerusalem. We must protect these holy sites and preserve the identity of Jerusalem. And we must safeguard the Holy City as a place of worship for all.
Here and elsewhere, let us help create a true neighbourhood of peace ... where every family can enjoy the blessings of safety ... where no child will be held back by violence and destruction ... where all communities will know the power of reconciliation ... and where the Palestinian people will find an end to occupation and suffering, and share, at last, in the rightful dignity of freedom.
During your time with us, your words of wisdom and goodness will touch many lives - both here in Jordan, and around the region and the world.
In the days ahead, may we, together, deepen and enrich the work of peace that God commands of us. And in these great hopes, Your Holiness, we welcome you today.