Saturday, 9 May 2009

Holy Father in the Holy Land

Take a look at the Vatican Website's layout of the programme. This would be a punishing schedule for a man in his prime giving talks to easy audiences. For the Holy Father to undertake this series of events in the highly-charged atmosphere of the Holy Land, knowing that any slip will be mercilessly punished by the world's media, is heroic indeed.

Yesterday and today, he has spoken at a welcoming ceremony at the Queen Alia airport in Amman, and then given an address while visiting the Regina Pacis centre, paid a courtesy visit to the King and Queen of Jordan, given an address while visiting the basilica of the memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, spoken again at the blessing of the cornerstone of Madaba University of the Latin Patriarchate, visited the Hashemite museum and the Al-Hussein Bin Talal Mosque in Amman, and given an address at a meeting with Muslim religious leaders, members of the Diplomatic Corps and Rectors of universities in Jordan in front of the mosque al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman. This evening he gave another address at the celebration of Vespers with priests and religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of Saint-Georges in Amman.

Deep breath! Two days down, only six more to go.

Some quotations:

On a favourite theme of the Holy Father, the search for truth:
In fact, belief in God does not suppress the search for truth; on the contrary it encourages it. Saint Paul exhorted the early Christians to open their minds to “all that is true, all that is noble, all that is good and pure, all that we love and honor, all that is considered excellent or worthy of praise” (Phil 4:8). (Address at the blessing of the cornerstone of Madaba University)
On religion and the family:
Our love and duty before the Almighty is expressed not only in our worship but also in our love and concern for children and young people – your families – and for all Jordanians. It is for them that you labor and it is they who motivate you to place the good of every human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society. May reason, ennobled and humbled by the grandeur of God’s truth, continue to shape the life and institutions of this nation, in order that families may flourish and that all may live in peace, contributing to and drawing upon the culture that unifies this great Kingdom! (Address at the meeting with Muslim religious leaders, members of the diplomatic corps and rectors of universities in Jordan)
Warm recognition of the work of Christian priests and religious:
From kindergartens to places of higher education, from orphanages to homes for the elderly, from work with refugees to a music academy, medical clinics and hospitals, interreligious dialogue and cultural initiatives, your presence in this society is a marvellous sign of the hope that defines us as Christian. (Address at Vespers in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of Saint-Georges, Amman)
The Vatican's Pilgrimage Programme page has regular updates with links to his addresses.

The Catholic Herald has a portal for the visit and EWTN has a special section for coverage of the visit.

One interesting snippet is that Queen Rania of Jordan has been posting on Twitter and has her own YouTube channel.
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