King, Queen accompany Pope to Baptism Site

10 May 2009

Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania Al Abdullah on Sunday accompanied Pope Benedict XVI on a visit to the Baptism Site.

At the Jordan Valley site, King Abdullah and the pontiff were briefed on the Baptism Site and the excavations of antiquities there that are compatible with the account of Jesus' life in the Bible.

The King and the Pope unveiled a memorial plaque and laid the foundation stones for the Latin and Roman Catholic Churches, which will be built near the site. Pope Benedict also held a prayer for Renewal Baptism.

The Pontiff said: "The Jordan River always reminds you that you have been washed by baptismal water and have become members of the family of Jesus Christ, the Messiah."

The Pope asked the Christian community to work for understanding in the one society. "Work for the sake of dialogue and understanding in civil society, especially when you demand your rights," the Pope said.

He stressed that Christians in the Middle East had suffered pain, years of violence and unresolved conflicts and were called upon to contribute to reconciliation and peace through the teachings inspired by Jesus Christ of forgiveness and generosity.

Patriarch Fouad Tawal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, described the meeting of King Abdullah and the pope in a such a distinguished holy place as “an historic event”.

Latin Bishop of Jordan, Salim Sayegh, expressed appreciation to the King for his interest in Christian holy places in Jordan.

King Abdullah, he added, had dedicated himself to regional peace.

Following the prayer, His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, the King's Private advisor, presented the Pope with a mosaic portrait of antiquities in the Baptism Site and a picture of His Holiness the Pope.