Religious tourism in 2019

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Religious tourism in 2019

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader

Days ago, I participated in the annual conference organized by Opera Romana which is the office of the Vicariate of Rome, an organ of the Holy See which has been serving pilgrimage trips to and from Rome for more than 80 years.

I was one of the guests of honor who made an address alongside Most Rev. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as well as Director of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima Fr. Carlos Cabecinhas and Director of Our Lady of Lourdes grotto Fr. André Cap.

I talked about our beloved country, Jordan, stating that it is a holy land, where a number of prophets, apostles and martyrs lived, including a number of prominent biblical figures most notably are the prophets Elijah, Moses and John the Baptist. Yet, the most outstanding event that took place in our country is the baptism of Lord Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in a river that bears the name of our beloved country: the Jordan River.

I focused on the important points in religious tourism, indicating that pilgrims to our country can pray in several holy places. However, visiting these sites does not dispense the tourists with getting acquainted with the honorable modern Jordan. The prevailing security and stability are the greatest incentives that encourage pilgrims and tourists to come to our country which is rightly described as holy.

One of the most emerging impressions in our country is the participation of groups of pilgrims in Holy Mass alongside the believers from various Churches in the Kingdom. In the past, these groups of pilgrims were looking for "empty churches" to hold their religious rites in their own languages. However, encouragement nowadays is directed towards visiting the “living churches” rather than the ancient churches. Encouragement is also focused on the churches in which there are priests and believers, where religious rites are celebrated every Sunday or rather every day. This strengthens mutual knowledge and establishes noble friendships between peoples.

Upon elaborating on the upcoming plans for 2019, it was noticed that Opera Romana has been preparing dozens of trips to Jordan, including those related to tourism in Palestine or the western part of the Holy Land, so that the tourists can spend three days in Jordan. There is also a number of private trips to Jordan, where tourists can spend seven or eight days in our hospitable country. This is only limited to trips organized from Italy by Opera Romana, the institution which has great love for Jordan. We hope that the pilgrimage to our country will be reactivated from other friendly countries.

We should, therefore, get ready for a prosperous tourist season next year, by refurbishing sites and hotels, as well by focusing on qualified tourist guides who positively reflect the civilized nature of our country. We consequently urge tourist guides to give a civilized refection with open arms to welcome our dear guests.

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