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Breaking Barriers

excerpts from the addresses of Pope Francis

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From 24-26 May 2014, the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, made a historic pilgrimage to Jordan, Palestine and Israel, marking the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The primary purpose of Francis’ visit was to commemorate an event that began the ecumenical movement between Catholic and Orthodox Christians. The pope also utilized the pilgrimage to focus on several themes pertinent to his papacy: the folly of war, the plight of displaced peoples, poverty and the necessity for dialogue among all peoples and faiths.

Following are excerpts from the pope’s speeches and homilies, which speak poignantly of these issues affecting all who live in the region. The complete texts are available on our website, http://www.cnewa.org/web/francisintheholyland.

MEETING WITH THE AUTHORITIES OF THE KINGDOM OF JORDAN
Amman, Saturday

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict that has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits, your majesty, the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need. ...

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of his majesty the king in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. You are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker: Thank you! I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding among Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

MASS
International Stadium, Amman, Saturday

The mission of the Holy Spirit, in fact, is to beget harmony — he is himself harmony — and to create peace in different situations and between different people. Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches. ...

Peace is not something that can be bought or sold; peace is a gift to be sought patiently and to be “crafted” through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened if we realize we are all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we never forget we have the same Father in heaven and that we are all his children, made in his image and likeness. ...

Let us ask the Spirit to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion. Let us ask him to anoint our whole being with the oil of his mercy, which heals the injuries caused by mistakes, misunderstandings and disputes.

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