As has been the case every year, the Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) in Jordan has held, a symposium marking “this year’s season of harmony,” titled: “Harmony Among Religions, in the Service of Peace Among Countries.”
The United Nations has announced unanimously in an unprecedented way, and in response to the Royal desire of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein the launching of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is marked every year on the first week of February.
Likewise, the World Interfaith Harmony Week was launched in 2020 in commemoration of the signing of His Holiness Pope Francis and Sheikh of Al-Azhar His Eminence Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb of a global humanitarian document on “Human Fraternity for Peace and Living Together” whereby the International Day of Human Fraternity was observed on February 4 every year.
We commemorate both anniversaries this year at a time when our brethren in Gaza are still suffering from the most difficult moments in their lives which applies to their children, women, and the elderly. Houses have been lost which is not only confined to its walls, but rather what was missed are the children who serve as the support and human pillars. We want this year to greet all the efforts being exerted towards the attainment of reconciliation, harmony and encounter among followers of different religions, especially Islam and Christianity in our beloved country. As we commemorate this year a quarter century of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein’s ascension to the Throne of the Kingdom, we sincerely recall the noble initiatives that Jordan launched during the reign of His Majesty, which have become global ones, highly lauded by all countries of the world, and that view Jordan--with its holy water and soil--as an oasis of security and stability on the one hand, and an oasis of encounter and dialogue on the other. His Majesty the King, the dean of the Arab leaders, has received three Popes who visited Jordan during his reign, namely Pope John Paul II in 2000, Pope Benedict in 2090 with whom he laid the cornerstone of the Baptism Church at the Baptism Site, and Pope Francis in 2014. The reign of His Majesty marked the launching of the Amman Message two decades ago, as well as “A Common Word Between Us and You” initiative with the Vatican in 2007, and of the World Interfaith Harmony Week in 2010, in addition to Jordan’s welcoming of forcibly displaced and persecuted Christian brethren from Mosul at the hands of the ISIS gang ten years ago in 2014.
It is no surprise that His Majesty the King, who is the custodian of the holy sites in noble Jerusalem, has received a number of international awards in recognition of his personal efforts in association with the efforts of the Jordanian society to promote religious harmony and harmony among the various worshipers of the One God. Thus, His Majesty received the John Paul II Award in 2005, the Templeton Prize in 2018, the Lamp of Peace Award in Assisi in 2019, the Path to Peace Award in 2020, and the Sheikh Zayed Award for Human Fraternity in 2021.
So, several occasions are marked this year, namely the World Interfaith Harmony Week, the International Day of Human Fraternity, the 20th anniversary of the launching of the Amman Message, and the 25th anniversary of the King’s ascension to the Throne. But there is a pang in the heart, as it is the quest for sustainable peace, for cease-fire, and for the termination of bloodshed... such a pang that makes a scream daily in afflicted Gaza.
At the outset of this week, we pray to the Almighty God that religions will always be at the service of peace and harmony. In this regard, I refer to the great harmony between the two friends, namely the Kingdom of Jordan and the Holy see marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, especially in calling for the attainment of the two-state solution and giving Jerusalem a special status, as the capital of the independent Palestinian state on its national soil.