LATIN PATRIARCATE - AMMAN

Visit of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Jordan
Press Release  13.3.2000


Jordan welcomes next week, on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21st, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, coming for his spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This visit comes 36 years after the visit of Pope Paul VI in January 1964.

 H.H. Pope John Paul II has a special vision of this pilgrimage: he wants to pray in the places which marked the main phases of the history of salvation: Ur of the Chaldeans, in Iraq, where God called Abraham;  Mount Sinai where God gave the ten commandments to Moses; Mount Nebo, where Moses stood to contemplate the Holy Land, but was not able to enter it. And last,  the land sanctified by Our Lord Jesus Christ, by his birth, his death and resurrection. In the mind of Pope John Paul II, this pilgrimage should continue in the footsteps of the apostles, successors of Jesus Christ, in the places where they preached and lived,  Damascus, Athens and Asia Minor.

His Holiness makes his pilgrimage in the Jubile Year 2000, because it is a holy year, for penance and prayer. In this year all Christians are called to make their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, as well as to Rome or other holy places.

The program of the papal visit is now known: it starts in Jordan then it continues in Palestine and Israel. There, he prays in Bethlehem, on the Mount of Beatitudes on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. He  concludes his prayer in the Holy Sepulchre, on the last day of his pilgrimage. There also, he will meet not only with Catholics, but with all Christians, as well as with Moslems and Jews.

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In Jordan, he will start by a private visit to Mount Nebo, then he will pass through the streets of Madaba, where he will be greeted by the crowds, Christians and Moslems. On  Tuesday morning, he will preside a solemn mass in the stadium of Amman, attended by thousands of Christians. He ends his visit to Jordan by a prayer on the banks of river Jordan, in Wadi al-Kharrar, where old monasteries were recently discovered witnessing a flourishing eremitical life in the first Christian centuries, on both sides of river Jordan.

His Holiness will  naturally meet with H.M King Abudallah II in the Royal Palace. Relations between Jordan and the Holy See, i.e. the Vatican and all the Catholic Church, are old, friendly and open, aiming towards the founding of peace and justice in Jordan and in the region. It is in this atmosphere of collaboration that Al al-Bayt Foundation developed also strong relations of dialogue with the Holy See, in order to strengthen interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

 The character of this visit is spiritual. It is an encounter with the believers, not only Catholics, but also Christians as well as with Moslems and with civil authorities. The message is spiritual; it is a message of peace and love for all, calling to build a new world based on justice and love.