Jordan King Breaking Precedent to Greet Pope

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2009 ( The king of Jordan plans to break protocol this Friday when he receives Benedict XVI.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, gave a briefing Monday on the Pope’s upcoming weeklong Holy Land pilgrimage.

The spokesman noted that King Abdallah II will welcome the Pontiff at the airport where he is scheduled to arrive at 2:30 p.m.. And in a particularly unusual gesture, he and Queen Rania will again accompany the Holy Father to the airport when he leaves on Monday.

Father Lombardi contended that this king is offering a noteworthy contribution to interreligious dialogue through various initiatives. He pointed to his Amman Message, encouraging the Islamic world to leave aside extremism, and the Amman Interfaith Message, directed primarily to Christians and Jews and inviting the promotion of peace and values shared among the religions.

The Vatican spokesman further noted that one of King Abdallah’s advisors is Ghazi bin Muhammad, who coordinated the initiative from 138 Muslim scholars who responded to 2006 attacks against the Pope following his address in Regensburg.

It was this group who wrote «A Common Word,» which eventually led to the formation of the Catholic-Muslim Forum in Rome.

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