PAPA DIXIT: Pope Benedict’s quotes on plane, in Amman
Pope Benedict plans to speak publicly at least 29 times during his May 8-15 trip to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Apart from covering the main points in our news reports, we also plan to post excerpts from his speeches in a FathWorld series called “Papa dixit” (“the pope said”).
(Photo: Pope Benedict leaves Rome for Amman, 8 May 2009/Max Rossi)
Following are comments from the first day, on the plane and in Amman. The pope spoke Italian on the plane but will deliver all his speeches here in English.
COMMENTS ON THE PLANE (Reuters translation from Italian):
MIDEAST PEACE: “Certainly I will try to make a contribution to peace, not as an individual but in the name of the Catholic Church , of the Holy See. We are not a political power but a spiritual force and this spiritual force is a reality which can contribute to progress in the peace process … As believers we are convinced that that prayer is a real force, it opens the world to God. We are convinced that God listens and can affect history and I think that if millions of believers pray it really is a force that has influence and can make a contribution to moving ahead with peace.”
CATHOLICS AND JEWS: He said It was natural that after 2,000 years of separate histories, misunderstandings would develop between Christians and Jews. “We each have to do everything possible to learn each other’s language … I am convinced that we will make progress and this will help peace and reciprocal love.”
CHRISTIAN-JEWISH-MUSLIM DIALOGUE: “Certainly there is a common message. Despite the differences in our origins we have common roots …. Our faith in one God . it is important to have two-way dialogue, with Jews and with Islam but a trilateral dialogue … a trilateral dialogue must move forward. It is very important for peace and also to allow each person to live his or her faith well.”
(Photo: Benedict aboard the plane to Amman, 8 May 2009/Tony Gentile)
CHRISTIANS LEAVING THE MIDDLE EAST: “This is a difficult moment but is also a moment hope and of a new beginning . We want above all to encourage all the Christians of the Middle East and the holy land to stay, to contribute in their own way. These are the countries of their origins. They are an important component of the culture and life of this region”
ARRIVAL SPEECH IN AMMAN:
NATURE OF VISIT: “I come to Jordan as a pilgrim, to venerate holy places that have played such an important part in some of the key events of Biblical history.”
FREEDOM OF RELIGION IN THE MIDDLE EAST: “The opportunity that Jordan’s Catholic community enjoys to build public places of worship is a sign of this country’s respect for religion, and on their behalf I want to say how much this openness is appreciated. Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental human right, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of every man and woman will come to be increasingly affirmed and defended, not only throughout the Middle East, but in every part of the world.”
ISLAM: “My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam. Now that some years have passed since the publication of the Amman Message and the Amman Interfaith Message, we can say that these worthy initiatives have achieved much good in furthering an alliance of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world, confounding the predictions of those who consider violence and conflict inevitable. Indeed the Kingdom of Jordan has long been at the forefront of initiatives to promote peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, encouraging inter-religious dialogue, supporting efforts to find a just solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, welcoming refugees from neighboring Iraq, and seeking to curb extremism.
(Photo: Pope greets Muslim sheikh as King Abdullah looks on, 8 May 2009//Ali Jarekji)
“At the Seminar held in Rome last autumn by the Catholic-Muslim Forum, the participants examined the central role played in our respective religious traditions by the commandment of love. I hope very much that this visit, and indeed all the initiatives designed to foster good relations between Christians and Muslims, will help us to grow in love for the Almighty and Merciful God, and in fraternal love for one another.”
AT THE REGINA PACIS CENTRE FOR THE DISABLED IN AMMAN:
HIS PILGRIMAGE: “Like countless pilgrims before me it is now my turn to satisfy that profound wish to touch, to draw solace from and to venerate the places where Jesus lived, the places which were made holy by his presence… Dear friends, every one of us is a pilgrim… Friends, unlike the pilgrims of old, I do not come bearing gifts or offerings. I come simply with an intention, a hope: to pray for the precious gift of unity and peace, most specifically for the Middle East. Peace for individuals, for parents and children, for communities, peace for Jerusalem, for the Holy Land, for the region, peace for the entire human family; the lasting peace born of justice, integrity and compassion, the peace that arises from humility, forgiveness and the profound desire to live in harmony as one.”
PRAYER: “Prayer is hope in action. And in fact true reason is contained in prayer: we come into loving contact with the one God, the universal Creator, and in so doing we come to realize the futility of human divisions and prejudices and we sense the wondrous possibilities that open up before us when our hearts are converted to God’s truth, to his design for each of us and our world.”
(Photo: Pope and king at arrival, 8 May 2009/Ahmed Jadallah)
“Dear young friends … Your experience of trials, your witness to compassion, and your determination to overcome the obstacles you encounter, encourage me in the belief that suffering can bring about change for the good. In our own trials, and standing alongside others in their struggles, we glimpse the essence of our humanity, we become, as it were, more human. And we come to learn that, on another plane, even hearts hardened by cynicism or injustice or unwillingness to forgive are never beyond the reach of God, can always be opened to a new way of being, a vision of peace. I exhort you all to pray every day for our world.”