Every second Saturday of the month, Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ.
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Every Sunday - 9am Divine Liturgy in English (fully or mostly) at the Holy Family Cathedral

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The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email for details.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Pope Benedict Journeys to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

The Vatican Information Service reports, 8 May 2009:

The Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9.50 a.m. today. Following a four-hour flight, his plane landed at the Queen Alia airport in the Jordanian capital Amman, thus beginning his apostolic pilgrimage to the Holy Land which is due to last until 15 May. This is the twelfth trip outside Italy of his pontificate.

King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan welcomed the Pope as he descended from his aircraft. Also present to greet the Holy Father were the political and civil authorities of the country, the ordinaries of the Holy Land, patriarchs, bishops and a group of faithful.

"I come to Jordan as a pilgrim", said the Pope in his address, "to venerate holy places that have played such an important part in some of the key events of biblical history".

He then went on to express his appreciation for the "opportunity that Jordan's Catholic community enjoys to build public places of worship", describing it as "a sign of this country's respect for religion". In this context he continued: "Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental human right, and it is my fervent hope and prayer that respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of every man and woman will come to be increasingly affirmed and defended, not only throughout the Middle East, but in every part of the world".

"My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam", he said.

"The Kingdom of Jordan has long been at the forefront of initiatives to promote peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, encouraging inter-religious dialogue, supporting efforts to find a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, welcoming refugees from neighbouring Iraq, and seeking to curb extremism". Pope Benedict then recalled "the pioneering efforts for peace in the region made by the late King Hussein. ... May his commitment to the resolution of the region's conflicts continue to bear fruit in efforts to promote lasting peace and true justice for all who live in the Middle East".

Referring then the to the seminar of the Catholic-Muslim Forum, held in Rome last autumn, during which participants examined the central role of the commandment of love in their respective religious traditions, the Pope concluded by expressing the hope that "this visit, and indeed all the initiatives designed to foster good relations between Christians and Muslims, will help us to grow in love for the Almighty and Merciful God, and in fraternal love for one another".

At 3.30 p.m. local time today, the Holy Father arrived at the "Regina Pacis" Centre in the Jordanian capital city of Amman. The centre, founded by Bishop Salim Sayegh, Latin patriarchal vicar of Jordan, is dedicated to the social rehabilitation of people with disabilities. Having been greeted by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, the Pope began his remarks by praising the work of the Comboni Sisters and the lay staff who work in the centre.

"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 centres carrying a portion of the fruits of their land and livestock to offer in homage and thanksgiving".

"Every one of us is a pilgrim", he continued. "We are all drawn forward, with purpose, along God's path ... sometimes with trepidation or anxiety, but always with expectation and hope, knowing too that there are others who encourage us along the way. I know that the journeys that have led many of you to the 'Regina Pacis' Centre 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 centre's great success in promoting the rightful place of the disabled in society".

"At times", the Pope went on, "it is difficult to find a reason for what appears only as an obstacle to be overcome or even as pain - physical or emotional - to be endured. Yet faith and understanding help us to see a horizon beyond our own selves in order to imagine life as God does. God's unconditional love, which gives life to every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life".

"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.

"Prayer is hope in action", the Holy Father added, for through it "we come into loving contact with the one God, the universal Creator, and in so doing we come to realise the futility of human divisions and prejudices and we sense the wondrous possibilities that open up before us when our hearts are converted to God's truth, to His design for each of us and our world".

Turning then to address the young people of the centre, Benedict XVI said that among them he "drew strength from God". And he went on: "Your experience of trials, your witness to compassion, and your determination to overcome the obstacles you encounter, encourage me in the belief that suffering can bring about change for the good. In our own trials, and standing alongside others in their struggles, we glimpse the essence of our humanity, we become, as it were, more human. And we come to learn that, on another plane, even hearts hardened by cynicism or injustice or unwillingness to forgive are never beyond the reach of God, can always be opened to a new way of being, a vision of peace".

The Holy Father concluded his remarks by calling upon everyone "to pray every day for our world" and, now in particular, "for me every day of my pilgrimage; for my own spiritual renewal in the Lord, and for the conversion of hearts to God's way of forgiveness and solidarity so that my hope - our hope - for unity and peace in the world will bear abundant fruit".

Following his visit, the Holy Father went to the apostolic nunciature in Amman. Later today he is due to travel to the Al-Husseiniyeh Palace where he will pay a courtesy visit to Jordanian monarchs King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.

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