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Jordanian Prince Hopes Papal Visit Develops ‘Template of Hope’

Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal is pictured 17 May in an orange garden outside his palace offices in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The prince has worked for the past four decades as a leading international proponent of interfaith understanding and dialogue. He expressed a desire to see Pope Francis’ upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land as a “template of hope.” (photo: CNS/Dale Gavlak) 

21 May 2014 – By Dale Gavlak

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal expressed the desire to see “a template of hope” developed during Pope Francis’ 24-26 May visit to the Holy Land.

Speaking with Catholic News Service, the prince welcomed the pope’s decision to have a rabbi and a Muslim leader accompany him on the three-day visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Observers believe the gesture underscores the importance the pope attaches to interreligious dialogue.

“Whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, extremists seem to be doing their best to bring about Armageddon, rather than work toward any form of convivial solution whereby the Holy Land is not only holy in name and description, but also in perspective of the future,” the prince said.

“That’s why His Holiness’ visit accompanied by a Jew and Muslim, I think, is more than just symbolic,” he said in a 17 May interview.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud who will be part of the official Vatican delegation, are friends of Pope Francis from his native Argentina. The pope invited them to make the trip with him in order to send what Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, called, “an extremely strong and explicit signal” about the importance of interreligious dialogue in the Middle East, one of the world’s most troubled and conflict-ridden regions.

“I just hope that this story will grow and grow and will be an awareness program,” Prince Hassan said, adding that the majority moderate voice in society around the world must be strengthened.

“The middle ground can only be built with the participation of Jews, Christians and Muslims, aware as they should be of the wisdom of the ancients: The rule of respecting your neighbor and expecting for your neighbor what you expect for yourself,” the prince said.

“How can we develop good neighborly relations unless we develop a social contract?” he asked.

The prince also underscored the importance of Francis’ meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in the hopes that efforts for Christian unity will be enhanced.

Prince Hassan said he would like to see a regional conference held promoting effective dialogue and more of such work done on the international level at the United Nations.

“The ethical response to the challenges we are facing at the moment was actually achieved in our call for a new international humanitarian order. The ecclesiastical community, the Holy See, the U.N., and the ecumenical community have a lot to do in 2015 when the U.N. celebrates 70 years of its existence,” he said.

“My hope is that the template of the U.N. could be used to develop an advocacy of justice for all,” he added, saying more must be done to address poverty, draw in those marginalized in society and expand political participation to all citizens through constitutions that are more explicit and less general.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and senior members of the Hashemite royal household, such as Prince Hassan, have been credited for undertaking initiatives aimed at buttressing moderate Islam and promoting religious tolerance.

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Tags: Pope Francis Jordan Holy Land Middle East Peace Process