Christmas speech of Archbishop Pizzaballa to His Majesty King Abdullah II

Your Majesty King Abdullah II

Your Highness Prince Ghazi

This year, as with every year, we meet to celebrate Christmas with you. Christmas is the main feast for the Christians in the Holy Land. On this occasion, it is wonderful to see how many gather around the Christian community to wish them well, to show solidarity and affection.

In these days, it is not only the Christian leaders, but I would say first of all our parishes, religious communities, schools, hospitals, which continually receive the wishes of their neighbors, of the nearby Islamic religious authorities, of the civil authorities …

In short, on these occasions, one perceives how the Holy Land, and in particular Jordan, is one large community and it becomes clear and tangible that all share the same rights and duties, the same responsibilities, the same life, that all feel to be part of the same civil community. In such a complex Middle Eastern context, I believe it is an example to consider and follow.

We are concluding a very complex and challenging year for all of us. We all had to face many challenges, within our respective institutions, but also at the broader level of politics and social life. The economic crisis, the problem of unemployment are distressing many of our families, and we are all working to alleviate the situation as much as possible. At the same time, it seems that sometimes, international politics want to introduce new ideas regarding our future which concerns us directly.

Proposals and projects have flown over our heads, but they did not land. Perhaps they will never land, or achieve anything concrete, because they are not connected to the reality of our territory and to its historical and religious traditions.

It is our duty as Christian leaders to maintain the historical traditions that have always preserved and accompanied the life of our respective communities in the Holy City, Jerusalem.

We often hear about the future of this city, which has a sacred value for all the monotheistic faiths and is a unique symbol in the world for billions of believers.

The future of the city lies in its roots and in its history. The Holy City revolves around two essential elements, which for generations have formed the core of its identity: One, the Holy Places and two, their respective communities. The communities of believers make those Places alive and the Holy Places make the communities vibrant. The Holy Places have marked the origins and history of our respective communities. Our communities were formed around these Places; our identities have been built from them.

As Guardians of the Holy Places, history has given Your Majesty and the Hashemite Royal House a unique and particular role in this context: that of preserving this tradition, of preserving this unique link between Holy Places and communities in the Holy City. As we said, this tradition is also the future of the Holy City. It is the common task of all of us to preserve and consolidate it.

In recent years, we have been favored by Your Majesty’s concern and attention to the specific problems that affected our communities in Jerusalem and in our daily lives. We also witnessed your attention in preserving the sacred monuments. I am referring right now of your generous contribution to the restoration of the Holy Sepulcher.

In addition to the very important attention to the monuments and structures, Your Majesty continues to promote inter-religious meetings and dialogue initiatives between our communities, to make our relationships increasingly harmonious. In this context, the “Amman Letter” remains the point of reference for a serious commitment to peace and moderation. Unfortunately these words today seem extraneous to our life.

We all thank you for your valuable service not only to our communities, but also to the region of the Middle East, which is still torn and divided. Jordan is undergoing enormous difficulties, just like all the other countries of the region. But unlike all the other countries, it remains an oasis in the entire Middle East, a veritable meeting place for everyone. We must preserve this unique character of Jordan and make it develop even more and more.

At Christmas, we Christians celebrate the presence of God among men. We celebrate a God who loves us and who wants to be with us forever. Jesus is this presence.

May the presence of God in our midst, which we celebrate at Christmas, bring peace and serenity to Your Majesty, to the entire Holy Land and specially to Jordan.

Merry Christmas!