Address of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III
to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
in the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of St. George
in Amman (9 May 2009)
during Vespers
on the occasion of the meeting of the Holy Father
with consecrated persons
and lay-people involved in serving the Church in Jordan

Most Holy Father,

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! You are blessed, most Holy Father, and the name you have chosen is blessed: Benedictus, Benedict.

Most joyfully we receive Your Holiness in this Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Saint George in Amman. You are Father, Friend, elder Brother and you can rightfully say, with the Prophet, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given me.”

Most Holy Father,

The great Jordanian consecrated family welcomes you today in this cathedral, beginning with my brothers, Their Beatitudes the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs and my brothers Their Excellencies the Bishops of different Churches in Jordan and other Arab countries. We welcome you especially in the name of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. With a great number of Hierarchs of our Holy Synod and faithful lay-people, we had the happiness, just one year ago, on 8 May 2008, of meeting Your Holiness in Rome. We are happy, today, to welcome you to bless this cathedral.

Most Holy Father,

You have before you consecrated men and women, whom I can genuinely call the successors of the many collaborators who accompanied the Holy Apostle Paul (whose jubilee year we are celebrating) sharing with him in the spreading of the Gospel. The consecrated people here present are themselves, in their turn, bearers of the Good News in this third millennium. They are, as the inter-eparchial Synod, held by the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land in the year 2000, declared, “believers in Christ, participants in the Church and witnesses in society.”

Most Holy Father,

To you, who are the Father of Fathers, Shepherd of Shepherds and Chief of Chiefs, as we say in the Liturgy, we set out, with trust and hope, the principal problems relating to our Christian presence in the Kingdom of Jordan in particular and in the Arab world in general.

1. We are an integral part of this Arab world with its Muslim majority, where, two thousand years ago, were born Christ in Palestine and Christianity in various Arab countries.

2. We are the Church of martyrs and witnesses, of witness, Church of the Cross and Resurrection, suffering and hope, Church of history, today and tomorrow. We shall not emigrate! We shall remain here, to affirm, as did Peter, whose successor you are, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

3. We are a Church in daily, vital dialogue, Church of meeting, of perfect solidarity with our Arab peoples, with our different Christian communities in their diversity and richness, and also with all Muslim communities. We are and will remain the Church of mankind, created in the image and likeness of God. As Saint Paul said, in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free...: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

4. Our Churches in the Arab world form together the Church of that important and difficult living together, and we have before us the imperative duty of working, not only to live with others (our fellow citizens) but above all to work together with them for a better future for young people, knowing that they form sixty per cent of Arab society.

5. Our Churches, in their pluralism, preserve the one, holy faith. In our diversity, we are the proof of what the Blessed Pope John XXIII used to say, “What unites us is so much more than what separates us.”

6. Those values of faith and dialogue are threatened by the fact of the Israeli-Arab conflict, which has caused and continues to cause wars, crises, calamities, fundamentalist currents, growth of violence and response to violence by violence, whose victims number thousands among our sons and daughters of the Middle East, in all Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.

7. Moreover, this conflict underlies emigration, especially Christian emigration. If emigration were to continue, it would mean that the mainly Muslim Arab society of the Middle East would be deprived, for its future, of its ambient, historical characteristics and of that Christian presence which has been for the last fourteen hundred years a fundamental element of symbiosis of civilisations and Christian and Islamic cultures.

8. From all that, most Holy Father, you may conclude the importance of realising just, durable, comprehensive peace in our region, especially in Palestine, but also in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The responsibility for peace certainly lies with Arab countries and their governments, but also with other states, especially those of Europe and America.

9. We should like here to thank Your Holiness and his predecessors of happy memory for their clear, firm and just stances on the matter of the Palestinian question, the right of Palestinians to have a homeland and their rights with regard to Jerusalem, which is the holy city of faith for us all, Christians, Muslims and Jews.

10. Your visit, Most Holy Father, is, for Jordan, the Holy Land and our entire Middle East, a factor for hope and opens for us radiant new horizons, since we all aspire to peace, safety, daily bread, a worthy life and a glowing future for youth.

11. Indeed, we express before Your Holiness a wish that the Patriarchs who surround you today may be able to meet from time to time around the Pope to inform him about our circumstances, our role, our hopes and our trials, for we know that you have a great affection for the Middle East, which is the cradle of Christianity and a meeting-place of civilisations.

Most Holy Father,

With the Church, we pray for you, remembering this text from the antiphon of the Hypakoe of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, on 29 June, “O Peter, rock of faith and thou, Paul, glory of the whole world, come forth together from Rome and strengthen us.”  

Most Holy Father,

We entrust to you this country, dear Jordan, guided by His Majesty King Abdullah II; we entrust to you the citizens of this beautiful country. We entrust to you also the Holy Land, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, so that we may be always present in your prayer and that we may have the benefit of your blessing. All these persons here present, consecrated to the Lord’s service say to you, “We love you!”  

Thank you, Most Holy Father, for your visit to Jordan!

+ Gregorios III, Patriarch

Source: Valerie Chamberlain

Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." (Proverbs 9:13 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

When you are praying, watch over yourself so that not only your outward man prays, but your inward one also. Though you be sinful beyond measure, still pray. Do not heed the devil's provocation, craftiness, and despair, but overcome and conquer his wiles. Remember the abyss of the Saviour's mercy and love to mankind. The devil will represent the Lord's fact to you as terrible and unmerciful, rejecting your prayer and repentance; but remember the Saviour's own words, full of every hope and boldness for us: `Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out'; and `Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden' - with sins and iniquities, and wiles and calumnies of the devil - and I will give you rest.'

St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ