Saturday, May 09, 2009

Meet the Family... and the Press

Shortly after his arrival in Amman yesterday, the Pope had a private visit with Jordan's King Abdullah II and his family.

The 47 year-old monarch has four children with his Palestinian-born wife, Queen Rania; February marked a decade since Abdullah succeeded to the Hashemite throne on the death of his father, King Hussein.

Meanwhile, a full English translation's appeared of B16's in-flight press conference -- an encounter mostly dedicated to questions of interreligious dialogue and Mideast peace.

At one point, the pontiff was asked what the church's contribution to the peace process could be....

Here, his response:

Regarding the question, certainly I intend to contribute to peace, but not as an individual, but in the name of the Catholic Church, of the Holy See. We are not a political power, but rather a spiritual force, and this spiritual force is a reality that can contribute to the progress of the peace process.

I see three levels [of contribution]: As believers, we are convinced that prayer is a true force. It opens the world to God: We are convinced that God listens and that he can act in history. I think that if millions of people -- believers -- would pray, it could really be a force that could influence and contribute to the advancement of peace.

Second point: We try to help in the formation of consciences. The conscience is the capacity of mankind to perceive the truth, but particular interests often block this capacity. And it is a big job to liberate from these interests, to open more to the truth, to the true values: It is a duty of the Church to help one to know the true criteria, the true values, and to liberate ourselves from particular interests.

And thus, the third point, let us draw reason in as well -- precisely this is it: precisely because we are not a political party, perhaps too we can more easily, with the light of faith, see the true criteria, help bring an understanding of what contributes to peace and speak to reason, to support the truly reasonable positions. And this we have already done, and we want to do so now and in the future.

Later today, Benedict will preside at Vespers for representatives of the local clergy, religious and ecclesial movements in the Jordanian capital's Greek-Melkite cathedral. The liturgy will mark the first time in his four-year pontificate that the Pope has visited an Eastern-rite Catholic church.

PHOTOS: Getty Images(1); Reuters(2,3)