The Catholic Center for Media Studies (CCSM) issued a statement Thursday unveiling the programme of Pope Francis’ visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at the invitation of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein.
The statement, published in conjunction with the announcement of the Vatican today and signed by Father Rif’at Bader, the official spokesman for the visit on behalf of the Catholic Church in Jordan, said that the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Jordan on May 24 includes official meetings with His Majesty King Abdullah as well as meetings with senior officials during which His Holiness will deliver his first speech.
He will then head to Amman Stadium to celebrate Mass as his predecessors John Paul II did in 2000 and Benedict XVI did in 2009 where a large number of accompanying cardinals, patriarchs, bishops and priests as well as huge masses of the faithful from Jordan and abroad will take part. Pope Francis will also deliver the homily during the Mass.
Fr. Bader said that Pope Francis' itinerary also includes a visit to the Baptismal Site which will be the fourth time in half a century that a pontiff visits the Jordan River; where the first visit was by Pope Paul VI in January 1964 when King Hussein Ibn Talal received him at Marka Airport and then drove him to the Jordan River.
He added that the visit to the Baptismal Site includes viewing the blessed waters of the Jordan River; then His Holiness will meet with ill and disabled youths and children, as well as those who care for them. His Holiness will also meet with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and deliver a special speech on this occasion.
Fr. Bader said that the visit of four successive Popes to the Kingdom signals entrenching the relations of friendship and cooperation between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Holy See where this year commemorates the 20th anniversary of the declaration of official relations which were launched in 1994.
He also referred to the efforts of the Vatican to preserve the flourishing Christian presence in the Middle East and called for reinfocing efforts aimed at consolidating the position of Jordan on the map of global religious tourism.
Fr. Bader said that the preparations for the fourth Papal visit are in full gear being carried out in coordination with all competent authorities.
Concluding the statement, he said that a large number of journalists and media from Jordan and abroad intend to enroll in the media coverage whose procedures will be announced shortly. He continued that that Papal plane will as usual carry 70 journalists representing major international media agencies.