Excited: Workers putting up a picture of Pope Francis at the Baptism site near the Jordan River in preparation for the pope’s upcoming visit to Jordan. — EPA
KUALA LUMPUR: Pope Francis 1’s upcoming visit to Jordan underscores the deep co-existence of Jordanians of different faiths.
The May 24 visit will be the fourth papal visit of its kind.
The Jordanian Embassy here said the country was proud to welcome the pope on his “pilgrimage to the site of Jesus’ baptism at Bethany Beyond the Jordan.”
It said the visit would emphasise the biblical importance of sites around Jordan as well as illustrate the depth of co-existence between Jordanians of different faiths.
The embassy noted the Catholic Church had designated five sites around Jordan as pilgrimage sites for the year 2000.
In this regard, it welcomed all press and media members to go to Jordan and cover the visit.
Many Malaysia Christian pilgrims to Jordan visit the Moses Memorial Church at Mt Nebo, Tell Mar Elias (St Elijah’s Hill), Bethany Beyond the Jordan where Elijah’s ascension to heaven in a chariot of fire is believed to have taken place and Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and to cross into Israel.
The embassy said the pope would meet King Abdullah II on May 24 before heading to Amman International Stadium to give a mass sermon open to the public.
“Afterwards, His Holiness will head to the Baptism site before meeting with sick and disabled people and Iraqi and Syrian refugees.”
The embassy said the visit underlined Jordan’s religious significance for Christian pilgrims as well as reiterate the message “about the co-existence in the diverse cultures and faiths around Jordan that is reflected in our varied historical and religious sites spanning millennia, civilisations and religions.”
“His Holiness Pope Francis I will come to the holy site of Jesus’ Baptism to be blessed by the waters of the Jordan River and bless his disabled and refugee guests in the same waters where Jesus Christ was baptised.”
The majority of Jordan’s 4.4 million people are Arabs descended from various tribes that have migrated to the area over the years. (http://www.kinghussein.gov.jo)
More than 92% are Sunni Muslims with small groups of Shi’ite and Druze.
About 6% are Christians who live mainly in Amman, Madaba, Karak and Salt.
While the majority are from the Greek Orthodox Church, there are also Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and a few Protestant denominations found mostly in Amman.