The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis I, has said that he follows with pain the severe tensions in the Middle East and stressed the need to reach a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis as well as a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Speaking after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman on Saturday, the Pope noted that "Christians in the region enjoy full citizenship and want to contribute to building their communities with their Muslim fellow citizens."
The Pope expressed his gratitude for Jordan's role and commitment to the search for a desired lasting peace for the entire region. "I thank God for the opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan just like my predecessors, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI," he said, "and I hope that this visit will contribute to intensify and strengthen the good and friendly relations between Christians and Muslims."
The Jordanian monarch called on the Vatican to help the Palestinians and Israelis to find a solution to their long conflict and stressed the Kingdom's commitment to protect Muslim and Christian holy places in Jordan and Jerusalem and to guarantee the holy city as a safe place of worship for all religions.
"We are faced with global challenges these days," said King Abdullah, "represented in the heavy price paid for painful sectarian and religious conflicts spread by ignorance at a time when our voices should be united to achieve understanding and reject injustice and violence." He stressed that Arab Christians are an integral part of the Middle East and that Jordan has a rich legacy of Christian tradition in line with the Kingdom's Islamic identity and heritage.
The King called on the Vatican to work to promote reconciliation and meet the challenges for easing the crisis of the Syrian refugees and the burden imposed on host countries including Jordan. He pointed out that Syria should be helped to restore its future, put an end to the bloodshed and find a peaceful political solution.