Holy Land Coordination praise Amman's 'tireless and vital efforts' for refugees

In the communiqué at the end of the annual visit, the bishops of Europe and North America underline the Hashemite kingdom's commitment to hospitality. Jordan an 'integral' part of the Holy Land and an example of interreligious encounter and dialogue. The ambitious project to restore the baptismal site and the goal of one million pilgrims by 2030. 

Amman (AsiaNews) - Jordan "hosts more displaced people than almost any other country" in the region, people fleeing the violence in Iraq, Yemen and Syria to whom "accommodation, skills-training, medical facilities, pastoral care, and advocacy" are provided.

This was emphasised by the European and North American bishops of the Holy Land Coordination (HLC) at the end of their annual visit to the Hashemite kingdom from 12 to 19 January. In the final communiqué, the delegation extolled the "tireless and vital efforts" of people inspired by the Gospel to uphold "human dignity" and ensure the defence of "the rights" of all, starting from the very last. 

Reviewing their meetings with Iraqi refugees, the Coordination bishops refer to the fear of "continuous insecurity" and the "lack of opportunities" in their country of origin. Hence the appeal for "dignified treatment" of those seeking shelter, in particular "access to health care and the right to work".

However, help for refugees must be accompanied by support for the nations that receive them, easing the "pressure" on local communities that "do not have the necessary resources" to meet everyone's needs. This is why the West must, on the one hand, increase "health care assistance" and, on the other, ensure "a wider welcome for the refugees themselves." 

In the note, the Coordination recalls how the Hashemite kingdom is "an integral part" of the Holy Land "as the place of the baptism" of Christ and his first ministry. The visit, the bishops note, is "something more than a pilgrimage" but represents a "visit of communion" with those who live "their Christian faith here" and form "lively parish communities [...]".

On the subject of pilgrimages, in recent days the Amman authorities have announced an ambitious plan to renovate Jesus' baptismal site on the Jordan River worth over 100 million euro. The aim is to relaunch the area, to attract up to one million tourists and pilgrims - Christians and non-Christians alike, given its value also for Jews and Muslims - by 2030, when the symbolic date of the 2,000th anniversary of the baptism itself will fall. 

The bishops applaud the contribution of Christian schools in the encounter between different faiths and the witness of young people "committed to enriching" Church and society while facing "major social and economic challenges".

In addition to their recognition of the royal family as "bearers of peace and promoters of interreligious dialogue", the Coordination's members add their "deep concern" about the "threats" to peaceful coexistence in Israel and the "resurgence" of violence in the West Bank, fuelled by the "sustained growth" of settlements and the "highest number of deaths" in 20 years.

From Mount Nebo where Moses first saw the Promised Land, the bishops concluded, "we have seen a land now painfully divided" and recalled the message of the late Pope Benedict XVI "in that place: The memory of Moses invites us to lift up our eyes to embrace with gratitude not only the mighty works of God in the past, but also to look to the future with faith and hope".