In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Prime Minister Conte,
I look around me at this beautiful Basilica in this holy season of Lent, and I think of the beautiful spirit that has brought all of us here—together in peace, together in hope, and I feel humbled to share in this occasion.
The peace we share here is all the more reason to remember the suffering families and victims of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, two weeks ago. Such evil, wherever it happens, is our suffering, too. Please join me in a moment of silence for these and all victims of hatred.
It is in a spirit of humility that I accept the Lamp of Peace on behalf of all who are working for a better future, and, most especially, on behalf of the people of Jordan, Muslim and Christian alike, who are making sacrifices every day for a better future for all.
So thank you, Father Gambetti, and everyone who has worked to make this gathering possible. And please let me acknowledge all the Franciscans who are diligently serving across the world, not only here in Assisi, but at Mount Nebo in Jordan, and far beyond.
Allow me also to express my deep appreciation to Prime Minister Conte. Italy is a great friend of Jordan, and an important partner in peace efforts, especially in my region.
And Cardinal Bassetti, accept my special thanks for the work of the Catholic Church in joining Muslims in interfaith dialogue. Together, our faiths make up more than half the people on earth. It has never been more important to come together in harmony.
To me, the Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis symbolises how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community.
But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding.
This is why it is so meaningful to me, to be passed the Lamp of Peace by one who has done so much to advance understanding and respect among peoples—my dear friend, Chancellor Merkel.
It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges—to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity and hope.
Saint Francis, whose shrine is at this Basilica, is known throughout the world for his compassion toward every person and all living things. Such love is an important guide for us today. The people of the world do not have to be the same in order to have the same concerns, share the same needs, or hope the same hopes. To reach a better future, we must find a common path.
In the Holy Quran, God says:
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
“People! We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.” (49:13)
Today, for the world’s people to know each other, we need real dialogue. That means speaking honestly, listening carefully, and acting on the positive values we all share.
My fellow Jordanians and I have vigorously promoted this dialogue.
In the Amman Message, we reached out to the world’s Muslims, articulating Islam’s true values of tolerance, compassion, and mutual respect. And across the world came voices of moderation—the majority of our fellow Muslims—joining us in rejecting attempts to distort our faith.
In the open letter, “A Common Word Between Us and You”, Jordanian scholars and fellow Muslims reached out to our global Christian neighbours, calling for a new understanding about the values our faiths share, especially the commandments to Love God and Love our Neighbour. And from every corner of the world, Christians have joined us in an earnest and positive conversation.
So my friends,
The principles of coexistence and interfaith harmony are deeply embedded in Jordan’s heritage. Our country is home to an historic Christian community. All our citizens actively share in building our strong nation. And indeed, Christians have been part of Middle East societies for thousands of years and are vital to the future of our region.
So Jordan is part of the Holy Land. The five “prophets of great resolve”, as they are called in the Quran—prophets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam—have all, peace be upon them, blessed our land with their presence. I myself have been blessed to help support the restoration of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ, peace be upon him. And Jordan has warmly welcomed Papal visits from 1964, which marked the first visit by a Pope to any Muslim country, to 2014, which marked His Holiness Pope Francis’ recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Jordan’s commitment to harmony and peace underlies our international role—our fight against terror and hatred on all fronts within a holistic approach; our work for effective solutions to global and regional crises; and our ongoing efforts for a lasting resolution of the region’s core conflict—the Palestinian-Israeli crisis—through a viable, independent, sovereign Palestinian state, on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a secure Israel, fully part of its own region, recognised by Arab and Muslim states around the world.
Today, nowhere is it more important to act than in safeguarding Jerusalem. As Hashemite Custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, we are bound by a special, personal duty to the security and future of the holy city. Jordan is actively involved in helping with historic renovation of precious Muslim and Christian holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Ties of love and concern bind the holy city to billions of Muslims and Christians around the world, and Jerusalem should be and must be a unifying city of peace.
Today, all over the world, millions of Muslims are coming together to perform Friday prayers, as those pious Muslims did who came to their mosques in New Zealand two Fridays ago. And today, as every day—five times a day—our prayers are calling for peace.
So I ask you to listen to that call. I ask you to help be the lights of peace who create the understanding and hope that our world desperately needs.
May the blessings of peace be upon all of you.