Here is the speech by Father Rifat Bader, Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, at a conference this week sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications regarding the role of Arab Christian media.
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Ladies and gentlemen present at the conference and dear viewers through Al Jazeera live broadcast
The Catholic Center for Studies and Media, in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications welcomes you to this conference, whose title carries an important significance that is directly linked to the great history drawn up by all people of this region … all of them together under all circumstances.
“Arab Christian Media at the Service of Justice, Peace and Human Rights”
Our Arab region needs to promote these urgent notions without delay; it also requires proper and healthy media to support such values that stem from our Creator and feed into the dignity of humans.
Arab Christians were and still are pioneering intellectuals defending human dignity through their lives or the space they are allowed in their varying communities to exercise the freedom of expresseion, thought, worship and contribution in all walks of life.
Allow me to thank His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Patron of this conference, who came to join us from our beloved Jerusalem. Thank you Your Beatitude. I would like also to thank the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the organizer of this conference for the first time in cooperation with the Catholic Center for Studies and Media, which has marked its first year last month. I wish also to welcome the President of the Pontifical Council Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli. But it is not the first visit to our Kingdome, as in the ninths he was the moderator of the creation of the Diplomatic Relations between the Holy See and the Kingdome of Jordan . We would like to seize the opportunity of his presence to thank him for the precious letter he sent a month ago to the Catholic Center for Studies and Media. We welcome as well Father Ramsine Al Hajj from the same Council.
I also wish to thank His Excellency the Minister of State for Media Affairs, my friend Dr. Mohammad Momani for his presence and for the speech he will deliver shortly. Welcome to your Excellencies the Bishops from Different Churches, your Excellences, our Brothers the Priests, Sheikhs, Nuns, Ambassadors , Media persons and all our friends.
The Latin Patriarchate, the Pontifical Council, the Catholic Center and all of the local media institutes that work in Jordan are all at the service of Justice, Peace and Human Rights, otherwise, there is no reason for us to be. We should hail our beloved Jordan especially today that we celebrate the Army’s and the Great Arab Revolution Day as well as the Coronation of His Majesty to the Throne. We are pleased to send from this hall to His Majesty King Abdullah our sincere wishes in these most memorable occasions. We ask God to keep Jordan as it is and as we wish for it to be; a safe haven and a place of dialogue. We also wish that the increasing social violence ends especially in our precious universities. And we ask the Lord to end the suicide actions by our young generations, let Jordan continue to be a civilization of Life and never a one of death .
This evening, we would like to begin a new tradition that is to present the Catholic Center’s Shield to pioneering people who contribute to the promotion of human dignity in the various media outlets.
This year, the Board of Directors chose:
Dr. Issam Sakhnini, a History Professor at Petra University for the book he wrote on the Arab Christian History and the oppression experienced by the Church at the early stages. I appreciate the work Dr. Sakhnini did especially that he published in Arabic the speech of the Iron woman Rahm bint Azma’, who refused to change her religions in Najran in the year 523; after the killing of her husband, she and her daughters preferred to die than to change their religion. This is a message that is good for our time; I hope that the non-violence of this message can be a call to stop the violence and bloodshed especially that which is committed in the name of religion as the followers of other religions are seen as enemies, where in fact they are not only friends but also brothers and sisters who work hand in hand in serving the Arab and human communities.
The second person is the Artist – Comedian Moussa Hijazine in appreciation for his contribution in the domain of political theatre and the freedom of expression, which alongside the religious freedom are considered the most precious of all human freedoms.
Dear bothers, last year, in a place near here, another conference titled “Arab Christianity , where to?” took place. At that conference, Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo was present. Today, this conference takes place, while Bishop Ibrahim and his brother Bishop Paul Yaziji are kidnapped. We call for their release from this hall and recall what Bishop Ibrahim said when he was in Amman:
“The need arises today for influential Muslim voices that can spread hope in the region, where the thought of immigration is one of the most prevailing thoughts in the minds of Christians and Muslim in the region”.
We ask for peace and tranquility in Syria and the whole region , and I wish to close as well by the words of Bishop Ibrahim: “the Christians of the Middle East want to be equal to all other citizens in rights and duties; we have all to work on entrenching the culture of citizenship in the region, otherwise Christians will face unfairness”.
Dear guests, media must be a servant of Justice, Peace and Human Rights, otherwise it should cease to exist.