Jordan Daily – His Majesty King Abdullah on Tuesday expressed best wishes to Christians in Jordan, Palestine, and the world on the occasions of Christmas and the New Year, at a meeting with church leaders from Jordan and Jerusalem, a number of Christian figures, and Islamic awqaf representatives.
Speaking at the meeting, which took place at Al Husseiniya Palace, King Abdullah commended the dedication of Jerusalem’s churches to the Pact of Omar and coexistence, based on the historical and legal status quo.
Expressing hope that the epidemiological situation would improve next year to allow Muslims and Christians to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem, His Majesty reaffirmed commitment to the religious and historical responsibility to safeguard and defend Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, under the Hashemite Custodianship.
The Custodianship is “an honour and a responsibility before me, the Hashemites, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” the King said at the meeting, attended by His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, His Majesty’s chief adviser for religious and cultural affairs and personal envoy.
Also at the meeting, His Majesty bestowed the Order of the State Centennial on the Patriarchate of the Holy City and all Jordan and Palestine, in appreciation of its historical and religious role in preserving holy places, consolidating Christian presence, and representing the Hashemite Custodianship.
Patriarch Theophilos III, patriarch of the Holy City and all Jordan and Palestine, received the order.
In addition, the King bestowed the Order of the State Centennial on the Council of Church Leaders in Jordan, in appreciation of its essential religious, spiritual, and social role in unifying the positions of churches and representing Jordan’s interests and those of their parishes. Council of Church Leaders President Archbishop Christoforos Atallah received the order.
For their part, the attendees expressed their appreciation of His Majesty’s positions in defence of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, under the Hashemite Custodianship.
They also commended the King’s contributions for the renovation of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, Christ’s Tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Chapel of the Ascension.
In remarks by Patriarch Theophilos III, delivered by Archbishop Atallah, the patriarch noted the legacy of the Hashemite Custodianship, as an extension of the Pact of Omar, in reference to Omar ibn al Khattab, one of Prophet Mohammad’s companions and the second caliph.
He said the heads of Jerusalem’s churches seek to highlight to the global Christian community the violations committed against Jerusalem, warning that the Christian presence in the holy city has become a target of extremist Zionist groups.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, said, “Jerusalem finds in Your Majesty a strong voice, calling for harmony and respect for the ‘status quo’. His Holiness Pope Francis acknowledges in you a strong testimony of peace and dialogue for all our tormented region and a promoter of fraternity.”
“We extend our deep thanks to Your Majesty for your valuable contribution to the restoration of the Holy Sepulchre, which is a solemn and appreciated work by all Christians in the Holy Land and in the world,” he continued.
For his part, Jerusalem Awqaf Department Director Mohammad Azzam Khatib highlighted ongoing restoration efforts at Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif, thanking His Majesty for his directives to award salary raises to awqaf employees in Jerusalem.
Awqaf Minister Mohammad Khalaileh, Grand Mufti Abdul Karim Khasawneh, Chief Islamic Justice Abdul Hafez Rabtah, Royal Hashemite Court Chief Yousef Issawi, and Director of the Office of His Majesty Jafar Hassan attended the meeting.