For the 5th time, His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein has met in the Holy See with His Holiness Pope Francis. In fact, friendship has developed between the two leaders that spanned over the ten-year duration of Pope Francis’ pontificate, while not failing of course to mention the good relations prevailing between the Holy See and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which can be characterized as the most distinguished relations in the Middle East as well as in the entire world.
In January 1964, His Majesty King Hussein Ibn Talal, may his soul rest in peace, welcomed Pape Paul VI, the first pontiff, who broke outside the walls of Italy at Marka Airport. In 2000, Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to Jordan and received a warm welcome by King Abdullah II which we still recall well during which he inaugurate the pilgrimage to the Baptism Site. The Pope himself had earlier received King Abdullah II on his first visit, who assumed at the time his responsibly as king, to the Vatican in September 1999.
In 2009, King Abdullah II also welcomed His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on a four-day visit, and in September 2013 King Abdullah II was the first Arab leader to congratulate Pope Francis on his election in the Vatican City in September 2013. In 2014, King Abdullah II visited the Holy See to meet Pope Francis in a meeting marked with cordiality. Pope Francis also visited the Holy Land marking the 50th anniversary of the visit of his predecessor Pope Paul VI and celebrating its golden jubilee.
In 2019, King Abdullah II returned to the Vatican at a time when Jerusalem was the subject of interest and tension in the world. He found Pope Francis welcoming and encouraging him to continue on the path of protecting the holy sites in noble Jerusalem.
As we mark the year 2022, we have witnessed the 5th summit meeting between the two leaders and the statement issued by the Holy See and Jordan emphasizing the Jordanian constants which have been the subject of great emphasis and interest from both parties.
The inter-faith dialogue has been in the first place the dominant feature in the past two decades, while being marred by several dangers due to terrorist movements that have tried to distort religion and consequently tried to distort the relations between the brethren who worship the One God. Yet, there is a beautiful current, a humanitarian and cultural one that has also been launched, whether from the Vatican or from Jordan in a fully integrated manner designed to preserve the sanctity of religion, its authenticity, and its pure source.
Here we come to the second important point in the relationship between the two parties which is usually the issue of noble Jerusalem and the holy sites. The King goes to the Pope in order to jointly stress the importance of preserving the status quo of noble Jerusalem and not to leave matters in the hands of a unilateral decision-maker that always tries to undertake measures through inhuman practices, namely the Israeli occupation. The issue of holy sites has been the preoccupation for Jordan since the establishment of the Jordanian Emirate, namely the Hashemite custodianship over the sanctities. This, of course, makes His Majesty the King not only a political leader, but also a spiritual leader who meets with a spiritual leader and head of the Vatican State, which is of course recognized by the United Nations.
This summit has once again shed light on the importance of the humanitarian, intellectual and cultural principles with which the two parties have been linked for several decades and which enabled Jordan and the Vatican to be pioneers in the field of encounter since the 1980s. The interfaith dialogue started through cooperation and alternation between the parties whereby sessions used to take place every year either in Jordan or in the Vatican. In-depth interfaith sessions were launched in Jordan and the Vatican. These initiatives which we witness up to this moment-- either in the Middle East region or in the Arabian Gulf region, which started a few years ago marking dialogue and tolerance--were initiated by Jordan and the Vatican. This matter made Pope Francis, for example, visit the United Arab Emirates in 2019 and Bahrain a few days ago. Congratulations to the extended human family on this 5th summit between the king of moderation and peace on the one hand and the Pope of humility and humanitarian attitude on the other..