Pope: I come to the Middle East to bring hope of peace
Speaking to journalists on board the plane about Christians in the Middle East, he had stressed the they are first and foremost “an important part of the culture and life of this region” and that his visit aims to “encourage them to find the courage, the humility and patience to stay in these countries and offer their contribution to the future”. He then underlined that the Churches presence in the region is seen above all in the schools and hospitals: the former to shape future generations and familiarize young Christian and Muslims “who meet, speak and are formed together”. It was his wish to go immediately to a healthcare institution. Moreover, the Regina Pacis centre, does not only care for the disabled it also rehabilitates them and educates them to enable the young disabled who often risk social marginalisation, thus becoming an important place of dialogue for Muslim-Christian life. It is also a “young” institution: the foundation stone was blessed on March 21st 2000, in Amman stadium by John Paul II.
“I know – Benedict XVI told the patients at the centre - that the journeys that have led many of you to the Regina Pacis Centre have been marked by suffering or trial. Some of you struggle courageously with disabilities, others of you have endured rejection, and some of you are drawn to this place of peace simply for encouragement and support”. “At times – he went on to say - it is difficult to find a reason for what appears only as an obstacle to be overcome or even as pain – physical or emotional – to be endured. Yet faith and understanding help us to see a horizon beyond our own selves in order to imagine life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which gives life to every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. As Christians profess, it is through the Cross that Jesus in fact draws us into eternal life, and in so doing indicates to us the way ahead – the way of hope which guides every step we take along the way, so that we too become bearers of that hope and charity for others”.
“Friends, unlike the pilgrims of old, I do not come bearing gifts or offerings. I come simply with an intention, a hope: to pray for the precious gift of unity and peace, most specifically for the Middle East”. In a telegram sent to President Michel Suleiman, as he flew over the land of the cedars, Benedict XVI spoke of his desire that the Lebanese people “may find the strength and courage to build together a united and solid nation”.
In Jordan, that desire widen to a wish for “peace for individuals, for parents and children, for communities, peace for Jerusalem, for the Holy Land, for the region, peace for the entire human family; the lasting peace born of justice, integrity and compassion, the peace that arises from humility, forgiveness and the profound desire to live in harmony as one”. (FP)