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The second need is to assist the church youth movements. The Christian youth in Jordan did not have any place for their spiritual retreats, camps and other activities.

ONE: What are some of the challenges facing the people of Jordan today?

Bishop Selim Sayegh: Jordan is now passing through a difficult political and economic stage and we pray to God that we can overcome it in peace, and that we always proceed toward the best with clear thinking, wisdom and responsibility. We all know that achieving the best is not done by one push on the button or remote control, but it needs a strong will, time, planning, work and lots of sacrifices.

As for Christian and Muslim relations: For more than 15 years, the Ministry of Education made the decision to teach Christian religion in government schools, but refused to implement it until now.

There are verses in the Quran that express total religious freedom like: “There is no enforcement in religion ... whoever will, can have faith and whoever does not believe, is free ... If God wants, He would have made people one nation.” But these verses are not lived out. The Muslim is still not free to change his religion. The Christian who becomes a Muslim loses his religious freedom. It is known in Arabic countries that religion has a civil dimension. For example, a Christian wife cannot inherit from her Muslim husband because she is a Christian.

ONE: What are your thoughts on the situation of Iraqi refugees in Jordan?

Bishop Selim Sayegh: The state does not consider the Iraqi migrants in Jordan as migrants, but as guests. Lawfully, they are not under the migrant’s laws and regulations. They are living in peace and enjoy security and privileges that cost the Jordanian government millions yearly. The government, for example, supports “bread for all” Jordanians and non-Jordanians. A minority from the Iraqi migrants is rich and does not need any support.

The church helps them in any way possible, especially through the Caritas Jordan and the Pontifical Mission.

ONE: Looking ahead, what do you hope to do in the future?

Bishop Selim Sayegh: I will reside in the Our Lady of Peace Center. I will have plenty of time to meditate and pray. The new bishop will be responsible for the center. I will be assisting Father Hanna Kildani, the parish priest for Marj Al Hamam. I will help the priests in confessions, in youth camps and spiritual retreats in the center. I will be ready for any service asked by the patriarch or the new bishop.

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Greg Kandra is CNEWA’s multimedia editor and serves as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

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Tags: Children Jordan Poor/Poverty Disabilities Personality profile