“When you love you have to share. It’s not in terms of a Christian value but it’s in terms of Arab values. Sharing and being generous and opening the door to others is an Arab value and we are proud of it. The main thing that we share with our brother Muslims here is peace and security for Jordan. When we see what is happening in Syria and Iraq we pray to Almighty God to keep us safe and secure here”.
This is the message of Bishop Maroun Elias Lahham, Bishop of Amman and Apostolic administrator of the diocese of Tunis, speaking with Vatican Radio’s Veronica Scarisbrick who is accompanying bishops from Europe and North America on their annual pilgrimage of solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land. (Pic.Jordanian and Iraqi Christian children light candles before attending a Christmas mass in Amman December 24)
|Jordanian and Iraqi Christian children lighting candles before|
attending Christmas Mass in Amman on Dec 24
Jordan is part of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, home to 200 thousand Christians of all denominations among a Sunni Muslim majority. Catholics count for roughly half of the Christian population and their contribution to wider Jordanian society is greatly appreciated, in the words of the Bishop of Amman.
The Catholic Church he says “is very respected, and has a lot of credit, in terms of social work educational work and human support. Our parish schools existed years before the public schools here in Jordan, so that is why we have a good history that we can rely on”.
Jordan hosts tens of thousands of refugees from regional conflicts. People seeking security in the Kingdom include Palestinians, Iraqis and more recently Syrians, putting Jordan’s meagre resources – particularly water resources – under increasing strain. Bishop Lahham notes that Jordan is a poor country but cannot close its borders to these people, because they “are our brothers that we have to welcome. We certainly do our best, it remains a big burden for a small country like Jordan. Please note that Jordan is the fourth poorest country in the world in terms of water supplies. But when you love you share”.