Following is a translation of the Arabic-language text of the address delivered by Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader, director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan, at the opening session of the symposium titled, “The Role of Interfaith Harmony in the Attainment of Peace Among Countries” which was held in Amman on Saturday, February 3, 2024 marking the Interfaith Harmony Week, International Day of Human Fraternity, and the 20th anniversary of the Amman Message:
Dear brothers and sisters, may God bless you this morning.
We meet again in this beloved capital, Amman, which is in the heart. We meet this morning together, by the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, to affirm these constants that we enjoy as churches, as mosques, and as an extended Jordanian society.
I greet His Eminence the Archbishop, the heads and representatives of the Churches in Jordan, as well as His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa Ibn Mohammad Ibn Khalid Al Nahyan, the most honorable ambassador of the UAE; His Excellency Mr. Hussein Al Mahmoud, deputy of His Excellency the Most honorable ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain; and your excellencies and eminences representatives of the Ministry of Awqaf, the Fatwa Department, and the Chief Islamic Justice Department. all priests, nuns, as well as representatives of functionaries, media, and universities.
Friends, this morning we mark the 14th anniversary of the initiation of “the Week Interfaith Harmony,” which Jordan proposed in 2010 by His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, when he requested that the first week of February every year be considered as a week for interfaith harmony. This proposal had nonpareil unanimous endorsement, thus this week became dear to all.
In 2019, His Holiness Pope Francis and His Eminence Sheikh Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb signed an important document in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, namely the Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. Since 2020, it has become an International Day of Human Fraternity.
In 2004, Jordan launched a noble message of peace, namely the “Amman Message,” which today we are proud to commemorate its 20th anniversary as it was exported from Jordan to the entire world. It was translated into all languages to express the crux of religion, namely a religion of peace, love, and brotherhood.
All of these occasions are marked, as we experience one of the most difficult moments that our Arab and humanitarian nations are going through, namely the aggression that we are witnessing these days against Gaza and Palestine. We affirm here, in the Week of Interfaith Harmony, that religions call for the attainment of peace, love, encounter, harmony, justice and equality.
The essence of religion is peace, and this is what we dedicate this day, as an expression of our solidarity with what is happening in Gaza, as well as to abstain from involving religion, in any way, in the battlefields of politics, wars, violence, terrorism, killing, in-fighting, and forcible displacement.
The core of religion is peace and love. Therefore, on this day, we gave this meeting an appropriate title that fits these days namely, “Harmony Among Religions... and Peace Among Countries.” They are all inter-linked as there can be no harmony among religions without peace between countries, just as there is no peace between countries as long as there are divisions and differences between followers of religions.
We pray to God with you this morning, for our beloved Jordan, so that it would remain an oasis of security and stability, a refuge for every person who needs medicine and medical treatment, as well as an address of encouragement and enhancement of human dignity.
We pray for the attainment of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. We pray for all the noble and benevolent efforts made by leaders with good intentions and wonderful diplomacy, led by His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein, who is leading the diplomacy of calling for a ceasefire, and for providing humanitarian aid to the afflicted Palestinian people. This is shared by a number of sisterly Arab countries that do not stand idly by in the face of the humanitarian and political suffering experienced by the Palestinian people.
We lift up our prayer to God so that this diplomacy be in solidarity with all those of good will in the world, especially with His Holiness Pope Francis and the Holy See, with whom Jordan is marking the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations that are always described as extended relations of cooperation, affection, and friendship. The congruence between the two diplomacies is firmly present these days as they call for a ceasefire and for the sustainable delivery of aid, as well as for sincere and unwavering work this time for ending the occupation and finding a final solution to the dark tunnel by giving the Palestinian people their right to an independent state on their national soil.
On these days, we mark the 25th anniversary of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein ascension to the Throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we thank God for a quarter of a century of continuous benevolence, especially this morning, marking a quarter of a century of benevolence in the field of inter-faith harmony.
His Majesty the King has received three Popes who came from the Vatican during his promising reign. He also received several awards, including the John Paul II Award, the Templeton Prize, the Path to Peace Award, the Lamp of Peace Award in Assisi, and the Sheikh Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.
All of this took place in honor of His Majesty the King, who enhanced the lofty Jordanian path that became a model throughout the world, especially with regards to the noble initiatives that Jordan launched during the reign of His Majesty, starting with the Amman Message in 2004, the Common Word Between Us and You in 2007, and the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2010, as well as welcoming refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain who came suffering from religious persecution from the ISIS gang ten years ago.
We plead with the Almighty God to always provide us with all the positive energy so that we can express harmony among religions and brotherhood that unites human beings. This is not just ink on paper, but rather this good spirit, high morale, and positivity should preval in daily work. In this regard I mention two things:
First: The plane that transported 11 wounded children from Gaza via the Egyptian territory to the Vatican’s “Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital” in the Italian capital, Rome. They were all Muslims. This indicates that the plane of human harmony and brotherhood does not distinguish between one religion and another. However, humanitarian work cannot stop at ideological and religious differences.
Second: This morning, I greet the soul of Mrs. Suha Qsous, who had requested before her death to donate her organs. After her death and her brain death, her son, Faris agreed to donate her corneas, kidneys, and liver for people they don't know. It turns out that they were also Muslim brethren.
This is the noble humanitarian benevolence that we are marking this morning.
May God give you all health and wellness. Thank you for coming.