The king and queen of Jordan met with Pope Francis in the Vatican today, speaking with him about the need for peace and stability in the Middle East.
Although Pope Francis is still on what’s been called his summer working-vacation, the meeting was arranged due to rising tensions throughout the region, particularly in Syria. Jordan, which shares a border with Syria, recently declared it will refuse to serve as a launch pad for attacks from other nations against the already war-torn country where the two-year civil war has left more than 100,000 dead.
Upon their arrival this morning, Pope Francis greeted King Abdullah II and his wife, Queen Rania, saying to the king in English, “Welcome, your majesty.”
King Abdullah told the Holy Father: “I have tremendous respect for what you are doing and for what the Catholic Church does.”
Pope Francis then had a private meeting with the king and queen for about 20 minutes, after which he greeting the seven other members of the delegation.
Following his meeting with Pope Francis, King Abdullah, along with several delegates, met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
The Vatican released a statement indicating that a broad range of topics were touched upon, including the negotiations that have resumed between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the question of Jerusalem.
According to the Vatican’s press statement, a subject that was given special attention was the crisis in Syria. One point that was reiterated in the meetings, said the statement, was that “dialogue and negotiation between all components of Syrian society, with the support of the international community, is the only option to put an end to the conflict and to the violence that every day causes the loss of so many human lives, especially amongst the helpless civilian population.”
King Abdullah was commended for his commitment to interreligious dialogue, the statement continued.
In September, a conference will be hosted in Amman which will focus on the challenges Christians are going to have to face, especially at a time of socio-political upheaval.
The Vatican statement also said recognition was given to the “positive contribution” Christian communities offer to the local society, “of which they play an integral part”.