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Intervention of Mons. Yasser AYYASH, Archbishop of Petra and Philadelphia in Arabia of the Greek-Melkites (JORDAN)



First of all we express our most sincere gratitude to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who has brought us together in this special Synod on the Catholic Church in the Middle East: communion and witness. A Synod that looks like a special blessing for the Catholic Church and for Christians in the Middle East. A Synod in which the Fathers of the Church are gathered to study, pray and realize the aspirations of the faithful.
With my intervention I would like to direct your attention to issues relating to the theme of the Catholic Church and to Christians in general in Jordan. In spite of the current situation of the countries in the Middle East, especially in Palestine, Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, they enjoy peace, serenity, stability and moderation.

These realities help us to truly give witness to Christ. In Jordan, we remember the two historic visits of Pope John Paul II and of Pope Benedict XVI, and the warm welcome reserved for them in Jordan and in the Holy Land. We thank Pope Benedict XVI for his love and his special attention to the Church in the Middle East, inviting the faithful to witness even more to their faith in their countries, and persevere in the Holy Land, land of love and peace.
Our Christian witness is expressed through:
1. The schools, the hospitals and the charities which provide their service in love, without any discrimination and on equal terms, to Christians and Muslims, in education, ethics and science.
2. We celebrate our prayers and our rites fully in our churches and parishes without any difficulty. In addition, within the law, we can buy and build churches, schools and other buildings.
3. For more than forty years Christians have celebrated Easter according to the Eastern calendar and Christmas according to the Western calendar, all together, Catholics and non-Catholics.
4. Catechesis is taught in Christian schools and some private schools, but not in official schools although several attempts have been made to that effect. There is more than one scholastic curriculum. Ideally there should be a unified curriculum for the faithful of the Catholic Church and preferably for all Christians.
5. Christians are actively involved in daily life in its diverse areas. Their role is effective, strong and well recognized.
6. Emigration continues to be a serious problem with implications both positive and negative. Emigration is both internal and oriented towards the countries of the diaspora, not to mention the immigrants who arrive in Jordan for work or because of recurring wars. The local Church has conducted humanitarian and pastoral ministry according to its capabilities. The reasons for emigration are varied: political, security, economic, the search for a better future ... However, it is rare to hear the reason cited as “religious persecution”.
7. There is no official Islamic Christian dialogue at a national level. For this purpose meetings are held regularly between Jordan and the Holy See. We hope that the Council of Churches in the Middle East may overcome the difficult test faced, in the service of Christian unity and witness.
8. There are several cases of apostasy against the Islamic religion. There are many reasons and in no way related to faith. There are few cases of apostasy against the Christian religion.
9. More mutual cooperation, unification of common efforts and genuine charity will give us the courage and strength for our witness to bear fruit, give glory to God and take root in the Christian’s land and in his faith. Thank you.

[00168-02.03] [IN108] [Original text: Arabic]




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