“The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the land of peace”

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“The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is the land of peace”

By Fr. Rif'at Bader

During the celebration marking the “Lighting the Candles of Peace’’ which was held at the Church of Baptism off the Baptism Site of Lord Jesus Christ on the bank of the River Jordan within the framework of an eve titled, "Jordan, the Land of Peace" on Friday May 11, 2018 under the patronage of Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Lina Annab, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan Fr. Rif’at Bader delivered an address in which he said: “We were experiencing a unique situation namely, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or rather Jordan, the land of peace". It also demonstrated that we have a wise leadership, namely the Hashemite leadership which acquires religious and historic legitimacy, and that our King is the King of dialogue and peace.”

Following is the text of his address:

Dear Jordanians and friends of the land of peace, peace be upon you,

In May 2009, when the leader of our country stood next to the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, to lay the foundation stone of this Church, the cathedral, foundation stone of the church, it was a clear and explicit declaration that the world's certainty was corroborated by the fact that we were experiencing a unique situation namely, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or rather Jordan, the land of peace". It also demonstrated that we have a wise leadership, namely the Hashemite leadership which acquires religious and historic legitimacy, and that our king is the king of dialogue and peace.

Nine years after that event, and 18 years after the first pilgrimage in our modern era to this holy place and after the successive visits by four popes, we stand at this very place and recall the past events. In 1964, Pope Paul VI stood by the gushing Jordan River water and prayed the traditional Christian prayers, namely the Lords Prayer (Our Father), the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be, then he proceeded to Jerusalem.
In the 2000 Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II went on pilgrimage and prayed at St. Elias Churches. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI laid the foundation stone, as I have mentioned. In 2014, Pope Francis prayed with the sick and the forcibly displaced brethren here. In October 2018, we await the canonization of Pope Paul VI to become the second saint who visited us after the canonization of John Paul II in 2014. In other words, those who visited us are not restricted to heads of state or popes but rather to saints.

I have experienced, alongside others among you, the development of this place. Those who came to pray in 2000 will realize the size of development that this site underwent. This development did not come through noble, unstinting and continuous efforts. It is attributed to the efforts of His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi Ben Mohammad, chairman of the board of trustees of Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jordan Tourism Board, the Churches of Jordan as well as the efforts of every pilgrim who comes from abroad. It is hopeful that people opt to go from time to time to the Baptism Site.

When we go to Bethlehem, the most beautiful hymn is: "Hic De Virgine Maria Jesus Christus Natus" (This is the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ is Born ) because He was born in Bethlehem. Today, we sing a hymn and say that this is the site where Lord Jesus Christ was baptized. We also proudly and joyfully state that Jesus was baptized in our holy water. I convey heartfelt greetings on behalf of all of you to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities as well as to Minister of Tourism Lina Annab and to the employees of the ministry. I also convey my appreciation to the Baptism Site Commission especially to Dr. Sulaiman Farhat, Engineer Rustom Macegian, Dr. Abdul Aziz Odwan and all the employees. My appreciation also goes to the Fountain of Love Choir that has been performing uninterruptedly over the past 15 years by deacon maestro Tu'meh Jbara.

I would like to thank two people who has worked faithfully at this site and are currently in Heaven. They are Fr. Michael Piccolo and Engineer Diaa Madani, may God have mercy on them. At this site Lord Jesus Christ was baptized. After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the Heavens were opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and settled on Him.

Long live Jordan, the land of peace.

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