Earlier today Pope Benedict stopped at a social rehabilitation center for people with disabilities in the Jordanian capital city of Amman. Here he acknowledged the trials of the young people gathered and encouraged them to draw “strength from God.”
Benedict was greeted by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, and met the Comboni Sisters and lay staff that worked at the rehabilitation center. He praised their work and commitment to the people they serve.
“Like countless pilgrims before me,” he said, “it is now my turn to satisfy that profound wish to touch, to draw solace from and to venerate the places where Jesus lived, the places which were made holy by His presence. Since apostolic times, Jerusalem has been the primary place of pilgrimage for Christians, but earlier still, in the ancient Near East, Semitic peoples built sacred shrines in order to mark and commemorate a divine presence or action. And ordinary people would travel to these centers carrying a portion of the fruits of their land and livestock to offer in homage and thanksgiving.”
He told the crowd that “every one of us is a pilgrim” and that we are all “drawn forward” on “God’s path.” Benedict acknowledged the difficult situations that many of the people had been through to bring them to the ‘Regina Pacis’ Center, “I know that the journeys that have led many of you to the ‘Regina Pacis’ Center have been marked by suffering or trial. Some of you struggle courageously with disabilities, others of you have endured rejection. … Of particular importance, I know, is the center’s great success in promoting the rightful place of the disabled in society.”
The Pope continued his messaged by saying that it is difficult to understand “an obstacle” that seems to only bring pain, but “faith and understanding help us to see a horizon beyond our own selves” to be able to see as God sees.
“Unlike the pilgrims of old, I do not come bearing gifts or offerings. I come simply with an intention, a hope: to pray for the precious gift of unity and peace, most specifically for the Middle East. Peace for individuals, … for communities, peace for Jerusalem, for the Holy Land, for the region, peace for the entire human family; the lasting peace born of justice, integrity and compassion, the peace that arises from humility, forgiveness and the profound desire to live in harmony as one” he said.
“Prayer is hope in action”, Benedict added, for through prayer, we can experience “love contact with the one God, the universal Creator” that allows us to overcome our “divisions and prejudices” as our hearts are “converted to God’s truth.”
The youth gathered at the ‘Regina Pacis’ Center were also addressed by Benedict. He said that their experiences with “trials” and “witness to compassion” have encouraged him to believe that “suffering can bring about change for the good” and that “standing alongside others in their struggles” allows us to “glimpse the essence of humanity.”
He concluded his thoughts by asking everyone “to pray every day for our world,” for his pilgrimage, and his “spiritual renewal in the Lord.”
Later today Benedict is set to travel to the Al-Husseiniyeh Palace where he will visit the Jordanian monarchs King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.