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St John Paul II's Jubilee Pilgrimage to Jordan

20th - 21st March in the Jubilee Year 2000

Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Jordan during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the Jubilee Year 2000, on which he also visited Israel and Palestine. It was his 91st apostolic voyage.

Following the welcome ceremony with His Majesty King Abdullah II, Pope John Paul II visited the Monastery on Mount Nebo. The following day, Papa San Giovanni Paolo II celebrated Mass in the Amman Stadium and prayed at Wadi Al-Kharrar, before departing for Tel Aviv.

Pope John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Queen Alia Airport , Amman, 20 March 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Majesties, Members of the Government,
1. In a spirit of profound respect and friendship, I offer greetings to all who live in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: the members of the Catholic Church and the other Christian Churches, the Muslim people whom we followers of Jesus Christ hold in high esteem, and all men and women of good will.

My visit to your country and the entire journey which I am beginning today is part of the religious Jubilee Pilgrimage which I am making to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the Birth of Jesus Christ. From the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of Rome, I have had a great desire to mark this event by praying in some of the places linked to salvation history – places that speak to us of that moment’s long preparation through biblical times, places where our Lord Jesus Christ actually lived, or which are connected with his work of redemption. I have already been to Egypt and Mount Sinai, where God revealed his name to Moses and entrusted to him the tablets of the Law of the Covenant.

2. Today I am in Jordan, a land familiar to me from the Holy Scriptures: a land sanctified by the presence of Jesus himself, by the presence of Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist, and of saints and martyrs of the early Church. Yours is a land noted for its hospitality and openness to all. These are qualities of the Jordanian people which I have experienced many times in conversations with the late King Hussein, and which were confirmed anew in my meeting with Your Majesty at the Vatican in September last year.

Your Majesty, I know how deeply concerned you are for peace in your own land and in the entire region, and how important it is to you that all Jordanians – Muslims and Christians – should consider themselves as one people and one family. In this area of the world there are grave and urgent issues of justice, of the rights of peoples and nations, which have to be resolved for the good of all concerned and as a condition for lasting peace. No matter how difficult, no matter how long, the process of seeking peace must continue. Without peace, there can be no authentic development for this region, no better life for its peoples, no brighter future for its children. That is why Jordan’s proven commitment to securing the conditions necessary for peace is so important and praiseworthy.

Building a future of peace requires an ever more mature understanding and ever more practical cooperation among the peoples who acknowledge the one true, indivisible God, the Creator of all that exists. The three historical monotheistic religions count peace, goodness and respect for the human person among their highest values. I earnestly hope that my visit will strengthen the already fruitful Christian-Muslim dialogue which is being conducted in Jordan, particularly through the Royal Interfaith Institute.

3. The Catholic Church, without forgetting that her primary mission is a spiritual one, is always eager to cooperate with individual nations and people of goodwill in promoting and advancing the dignity of the human person. She does this particularly in her schools and education programmes, and through her charitable and social institutions. Your noble tradition of respect for all religions guarantees the religious freedom which makes this possible, and which is in fact a fundamental human right. When this is so, all citizens feel themselves equal, and each one, inspired by his own spiritual convictions, can contribute to the building up of society as the shared home of all.

4. The warm invitation which Your Majesties, the Government and the people of Jordan have extended to me is an expression of our common hope for a new era of peace and development in this region. I am truly grateful, and with deep appreciation of your kindness I assure you of my prayers for you, for all the Jordanian people, for the displaced people in your midst, and for the young people who make up such a large part of the population.

May Almighty God grant Your Majesties happiness and long life!
May he bless Jordan with prosperity and peace!"

Saint John Paul II's greeting at the Monastery of Mount Nebo
20 March 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Father Minister General, Dear Friends,
Here on the heights of Mount Nebo I begin this stage of my Jubilee Pilgrimage. I think of the great figure of Moses and the new Covenant which God made with him on Mount Sinai. I give thanks to God for the ineffable gift of Jesus Christ, who sealed the Covenant with his blood and brought the Law to fulfilment. To him who is "the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Rev 22:13), to him I dedicate every step of this journey which I make through the Land which was his.

On this first day, I am especially happy to greet you, Father Minister General, and to pay tribute to the magnificent witness given in this Land by the sons of Saint Francis through the Custody’s faithful service in the holy places down the centuries.

I am also pleased to greet the Governor of Madaba and the Mayor of the city. May the blessings of the Almighty be upon the people of the area! And may the peace of heaven fill the hearts of all who join me on my pilgrim path!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily at Mass in Amman Stadium
Tuesday 21 March 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"“A voice cries out: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the desert a highway for our God!” (Is 40:3).

Your Beatitude, Brother Bishops and Priests,
Brothers and Sisters,
1. The words of the Prophet Isaiah, which the Evangelist applies to John the Baptist, remind us of the path which God has traced through time in his desire to teach and save his people. Today, as part of my Jubilee Pilgrimage to pray in some of the places connected with God’s saving interventions, Divine Providence has brought me to Jordan. I greet His Beatitude Michel Sabbah and thank him for his kind words of welcome. I cordially embrace the Greek Melkite Exarch Georges El-Murr and all the members of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, as well as the representatives of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I am grateful to the civil authorities who have wished to honour our celebration with their presence.

The Successor of Peter is a pilgrim in this land blessed by the presence of Moses and Elijah, where Jesus himself taught and worked miracles (cf Mk 10, 1; Jn 10, 40-42), where the early Church bore witness in the lives of many saints and martyrs. In this year of the Great Jubilee the whole Church, and especially today the Christian community of Jordan, are spiritually united in a pilgrimage to the origins of our faith, a pilgrimage of conversion and penance, of reconciliation and peace.

We look for a guide to show us the way. And there comes to meet us the figure of John the Baptist, a voice that cries in the wilderness (cf Lk 3, 4). He will set us on the road that we must take if our eyes are to “see the salvation of God” (Lk 3, 6). Guided by him, we make our journey of faith in order to see more clearly the salvation which God has accomplished through a history stretching back to Abraham. John the Baptist was the last of the line of prophets who kept alive and nurtured the hope of God’s People. In him the time of fulfilment was at hand.

2. The seed of this hope was the promise made to Abraham when he was called to leave all that was familiar and follow a God he had not yet known (cf Gen 12, 1-3). Despite his wealth, Abraham was a man living in the shadow of death, for he had no son or land of his own (cf Gen 15, 2). The promise seemed a vain one, for Sarah was barren and the land was in other hands. But still Abraham put his faith in God; “he believed, hoping against hope” (Rom 4, 18).

However impossible it seemed, Isaac was born to Sarah, and Abraham received a land. And through Abraham and his descendants the promise became a blessing to “all the families of the earth” (Gen 12, 3; 18, 18).

3. That promise was sealed when God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. What passed between Moses and God on the holy mountain shaped the subsequent history of salvation as a Covenant of love between God and man – a Covenant which demands obedience but promises liberation. The Ten Commandments etched in stone on Sinai – but written on the human heart from the beginning of creation – are the divine pedagogy of love, indicating the only sure path to the fulfilment of our deepest longing: the human spirit’s irrepressible search for goodness, truth and harmony.

For forty years the people wandered until they arrived in this land. Moses, “whom the Lord knew face to face” (Dt 34, 10) would die on Mount Nebo and be buried “in the valley of the land of Moab ... though no one knows the place of his burial to this day” (Dt 34, 5-6). But the Covenant and the Law he received from God live on for ever.

From time to time the prophets had to defend the Law and the Covenant against those who set human rules and regulations above God’s will, and therefore imposed a new slavery upon the people (cf Mk 6, 17-18). The city of Amman itself – Rabbah in the Old Testament – recalls the sin of King David in causing the death of Uriah and taking his wife Bathsheba, for it was here that Uriah fell (2 Sam 11, 1-17). “They will fight against you”, God says to Jeremiah in the First Reading we have listened to today, “but they will not prevail against you, for I am with you ... to deliver you” (Jer 1, 19). For denouncing failures to keep the Covenant, there were prophets, including the Baptist, who paid with their blood. But because of the divine promise – “I am with you ... to deliver you” – they stood firm as “a fortified city, an iron pillar and bronze walls” (Jer 1, 18), proclaiming the Law of life and salvation, the love which never fails.

4. In the fullness of time, at the River Jordan John the Baptist points to Jesus, the one upon whom the Holy Spirit descends like a dove (cf Lk 3, 22), the one who baptizes not with water but “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Lk 3, 16). The heavens are opened and we hear the Father’s voice: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3, 17). In him, the Son of God, the promise made to Abraham and the Law given to Moses are fulfilled.

Jesus is the realization of the promise. His death on the Cross and his Resurrection lead to the definitive victory of life over death. Through the Resurrection the gates of Paradise are thrown open, and we may walk once again in the Garden of Life. In the Risen Christ we obtain “the mercy promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1, 54-55).

Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law. The Risen Christ alone reveals the full meaning of all that happened at the Red Sea and Mount Sinai. He reveals the true nature of the Promised Land, where “death shall be no more” (Rev 21, 4). Because he is “the firstborn from the dead” (Col 1, 18), the Risen Lord is the goal of all our journeying: “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22, 13).

5. During the last five years, the Church in this region has been celebrating the Pastoral Synod of the Churches in the Holy Land. All the Catholic Churches together have walked with Jesus and heard his call anew, setting out the path ahead in a General Pastoral Plan. At this solemn Liturgy I gladly receive the fruits of the Synod as a sign of your renewed faith and generous commitment. The Synod has involved a deeply felt experience of communion with the Lord, and also of intense ecclesial communion, like the disciples gathered around the Apostles at the Church’s birth (cf Acts 2, 42; 4, 32). The Synod has made clear that your future lies in unity and solidarity. I pray today, and I invite the whole Church to pray with me, that the Synod’s work will bring a strengthening of the bonds of fellowship and cooperation between the local Catholic communities in all their rich variety, between all the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and between Christians and the other great religions which flourish here. May the resources of the Church – the families, parishes, schools, lay associations, youth movements – set unity and love as their supreme goal. There is no more effective way to be involved socially, professionally and politically, above all in the work of justice, reconciliation and peace, which is what the Synod called for.

To the Bishops and priests, I say: be good shepherds according to the Heart of Christ! Guide the flock entrusted to you along the path that leads to the green pastures of his Kingdom! Strengthen the pastoral life of your communities through a new and more dynamic collaboration with the religious and laity. Amid the difficulties of your ministry, put your trust in the Lord. Grow closer to Him in prayer, and He will be your light and joy. The whole Church thanks you for your dedication and for the mission of faith you carry out in your dioceses and parishes.

To you, religious men and women, I express the Church’s immense gratitude for your witness to the supremacy of God in all things! Continue to shine forth as beacons of the evangelical love which overcomes all barriers! To the laity I say: do not be afraid to take your proper place and responsibility in the Church! Be brave witnesses to the Gospel in your families and in society!

On this Mother’s Day in Jordan, I congratulate the mothers present here, and invite all mothers to be builders of a new civilization of love. Love your families. Teach them the dignity of all life; teach them the ways of harmony and peace; teach them the value of faith and prayer and goodness! Dear young people, the path of life is opening up before you. Build your future on the solid foundation of God’s love, and remain ever united in Christ’s Church! Help to transform the world around you, by giving the best of yourselves in the service of others and of your country.

And to the children making their First Holy Communion, I say: Jesus is your best friend; he knows what is in your hearts. Stay close to him, and in your prayers remember the Church and the Pope.

6. In this year of the Great Jubilee, the whole pilgrim people of God returns in spirit to the places connected with the history of our salvation. After following in the footsteps of Abraham and Moses, our pilgrimage has now reached the lands where our Saviour Jesus Christ lived and travelled during his earthly life. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb 1, 1-2). In the Son all the promises were fulfilled. He is the Redemptor Hominis, the Redeemer of man, the hope of the world! Keeping all this before you, let the whole Christian community of Jordan be ever more steadfast in faith and generous in works of loving service.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, guide and protect you on the way! Amen."

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at Wadi Al-Kharrar
Tuesday 21 March 2000 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"I want to greet all of you for having gathered for this brief prayer. In particular, I pray for His Majesty the King and I thank him again for the welcome I have received in Jordan.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke we read that “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Lk 3, 2-3). Here, at the River Jordan, where both banks are visited by hosts of pilgrims honouring the Baptism of the Lord, I too lift up my heart in prayer:

Glory to you, O Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
You sent your servants, the prophets,
to proclaim your word of faithful love
and to call your people to repentance.

On the banks of the River Jordan,
you raised up John the Baptist,
a voice that cried out in the desert,
sent through the whole region of the Jordan
to prepare the way of the Lord,
to announce the coming of Christ.

Glory to you, O Christ, Son of God!
You came to the waters of the Jordan
to be baptized by the hand of John.
Upon you the Spirit descended as a dove.
Above you the heavens opened,
and the voice of the Father was heard:
“This is my Son, the Beloved!”
From the river blessed by your presence
you went forth to baptize not only with water
but with fire and the Holy Spirit.

Glory to you, O Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life!
By your power the Church is baptized,
going down with Christ into death
and rising with him to new life.
By your authority, we are freed from sin
to become the children of God,
the glorious Body of Christ.
By your
authority, every fear is vanquished,
and the Gospel of love is preached
in every corner of the world,
for the glory of God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
to Whom be every praise in this Jubilee year
and in all ages to come. Amen.

I wish to thank all those who have participated and all those who have helped in the organisation.

Particular thanks goes to the Patriarchs, the Bishops, the priests, the Sisters. To celebrate with the Catholic community in Jordan has been a moving experience.

I cordially greet the representatives of other communities who have come from many other parts of the Middle East. I am grateful to you all.

I am particularly close to the children and young people. Know that the Church and the Pope put great trust in you!

Special greetings to His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed.

I will keep all the people of Jordan - Christians and Muslims - in my prayers, especially the sick and the elderly.

With gratitude I invoke abundant blessings upon His Highness the King and upon the whole nation.

God bless you all! God bless Jordan!

May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan, and all who partecipated in this celebration, a memorable celebration. I’m very grateful to all of you.

Thank you very much."



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