Following is the text of address delivered by Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader at the opening of the Caritas Middle East and North Africa (MONA) three-day meetings on Tuesday, July 12, held in cooperation with Caritas Jordan which included various Middle East Caritas organization, namely Caritas Jordan, Syria, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Cyprus, Iraq and Iran with discussions focusing on the condition of the member organizations and means to preserve the basic services needed to meets the needs of people:
Dear friends who have arrived and will stay in dear Jordan, good evening.
I have been honored by your host Mr. Wael Suleiman with a request to welcome you in the name of the local Church in Jordan as well as on behalf of the Latin Patriarchate, the Catholic Church and all those whom you deal with in this beloved country. You are all welcome in the Land of Baptism, the land of John the Baptist, the land of the prophets, namely Moses and Elijah as well as all those who walked in this region, particularly Lord Jesus Christ and His virgin Mother Mary.
You are like Prophet Moses for as he was getting closer to the Holy Land, the Lord said to him," Take off your sandals, for the place you are standing is holy ground. Friends, you are welcome in our Holy Land. You are welcome in the name of its blessed stones, soil, Churches, and water.
Dear friends: Sunday, the day before yesterday, was the 15th Sunday of ordinary time during which we listened to the Holy Babe parable of the merciful Samaritan who was heading from Jerusalem to Jericho. Jerusalem represents holiness and beautiful humanity, yet this man was heading from Jerusalem to Jericho. This parable was told by Lord Jesus Christ who was heading from Jericho to Jerusalem to be crucified, to suffer, and to die for the healing of humanity.
Imagine a person leaving for Jerusalem and being beaten while the other person is heading from Jericho to Jerusalem to suffer for the sake of humanity. This is Caritas in whose name you gather these days in dear Jordan. There are those who go from Jerusalem to Jericho. They suffer, carry heavy crosses, their dignity is gravely defamed and are belittled. And there are those who go from Jericho to Jerusalem in order to rescue the oppressed, the persecuted, the displaced, and the hungry.
Friends: It hurts a lot to realize that humanity has not completely recovered from the Corona pandemic. We hoped and thought during the days of lockdowns, imposed masks, use of hygiene products, and resorting to social distancing that humanity would be healed healthily, spiritually, psychologically and physically. But as soon as Corona bid farewell to humanity--hopefully it will be permanent--humanity returned to fighting and wars. It has not been a long period of time since the announcement of the recovery and the elimination of masks, but humanity resorted to new masks in Ukraine in order to protect itself, its children and its families from the smell of bullets, foul gases, and destructive weapons.
What kind of humanity are we experiencing? We hoped that it would be unadulterated humanity, and that it would emerge as one who purifies gold with fire that wreaked havoc on humanity. We hoped that common pains would become our hopes for a full recovery! But it was something like the latent energy in the human heart that waits for the right moment to free humans from Corona in order to bind their fellow brethren again.
Where are we heading and what role does Caritas play at these times?
You played a fundamental and pivotal role in the past by caring for the refugees and the displaced persons. We thank His Holiness Pope Francis, who played a noble role, as well as Jordan and Lebanon by hosting every forcibly displaced person who was looking for a shelter, safety, and faith as has been the case with the Christians of Mosul.
Let me recall what His Holiness Pope Francis said to us dear brethren who were celebrating Caritas' 75th anniversary. He said that there are three characteristics for Caritas activities these days:
We badly need to excel in serving our brethren. A few days ago, we held a concert at the invitation of Caritas Jordan, and I was pleased to share this joy by welcoming Lebanese hymn singer Carla Chamoun to perform two concerts whose objective was not commercial but to buy medicines destined for Lebanon. This is the true solidarity that you want to devote and multiply in this good conference. It is as if you are witnessing in this conference the Synod of the Church, which is proceeding with us, to praise the Creator and to serve the other.
In my name and on behalf of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, the permanent partner of Caritas, and on behalf of the local Church, I wish to welcome you with open arms in the land of Baptism, and I wish your conference success in setting out new plans for your mutual solidarity. Let us meet always in Jordan or in your honorable countries.