CCSM cables condolences on passing away of Cardinal Sfeir

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CCSM cables condolences on passing away of Cardinal Sfeir

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader

The Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan, which is affiliated with Latin Patriarchate, has sent a condolences cable on the passing away of Emeritus Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, founder of the Maronite parish church in Jordan. The cable recalls the historic relationship between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Maronite Church which can be traced back to era of the late His Majesty King Hussein.

The statement issued by CCSM Director Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader states that the profound respect which Jordan's King, government and people have to the fraternal Lebanese people and the Maronite Church in particular is well-known to everyone. In 1964, Maronite Patriarch Paul Peter Meouchi took part in welcoming Pope Paul VI on his visit to the Kingdom and after the visit the late King Hussein presented the car used by the Pope during his visit to the Maronite patriarch, as this car is kept until today in the museum of the Maronite patriarchate in Bkerki which manifests the distinguished relations between the two sides.

The CCSM referred to the great role played by the late Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir in strengthening these relations, where in 1996 he blessed the Maronite community in Jordan which is regarded part of the Maronite Center Project, as this project was launched following the donation of a piece of land by the late King Hussein to the Maronite Church.

In 2000, Patriarch Sfeir returned to Jordan to welcome Pope John Paul II in his blessed pilgrimage to the Kingdom. Three years later, the Maronite Center was established under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II. In appreciation of the strong ties of friendship between the Maronite Church and the Hashemite family, the hall of the center was named after the late King Hussein Ben Talal. In 2005, Patriarch Sfeir blessed the foundation stone of the first Maronite church in the Kingdom which is the last stage of the Maronite Center Project in Amman. The construction of the church began in 2008.

The CCSM recalls Patriarch Sfeir's fourth visit to the Kingdom, coinciding with the arrival of His Holiness Pope Benedict VI in 2009. He met with His Majesty King Abdullah II where he stressed the depth of Jordanian-Lebanese relations, the need to develop them in various fields, as well as the need to promote dialogue and bring closer the followers of different religions and cultures in the benefit of the humanity. Patriarch Sfeir expressed his appreciation to the King's positions in support of achieving and sustaining dialogue, as well as in highlighting values and commonalities between Muslims and Christians.

One year after the third papal visit and five years after the laying of the foundation stone, Patriarch Sfeir returned to Jordan to inaugurate the Church of Saint Charbel in 2010, which was the first Maronite Church to be built in the Kingdom. During Mass he celebrated, he saluted King Abdullah II, pleading with the Almighty God to protect him and show him the way to attain further prosperity for the Jordanian people. Maronite parish priest Fr. George Shehan, described this inauguration at the time as "a dream that come true", stressing that the Maronite presence has become an integral part of the Church of Jordan, and that the Maronite community can be classified as an integral part of the dear Jordanian homeland. The visit also included the blessing of the building project of St. Maron Church at the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ on a piece of land donated by His Majesty King Abdullah II near the Holy Jordan River.

The CCSM conveys heartfelt condolences on the passing away to bishops and priests of the Maronite Church and to the Lebanese people. The CCSM statement says, "We have lost a man who worked in the service of his people in Lebanon and strived to uphold the values of wisdom, national unity, dialogue and common living among the various ethnic, religious and sectarian components of the Middle East.

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