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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pope Francis sends message to Our Lady, Queen of Peace Center

AMMAN 18 May 2014 — On the occasion of its 10th anniversary this year, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Centre has received a message from Pope Francis encouraging the staff to continue “witnessing God’s boundless love for everyone through serving the disabled and needy”.

“His Holiness is confident the centre will continue to be a sign of reconciliation, tolerance and goodness for the entire Jordanian people.”

Owned and administered by the Catholic Church, the centre was established in 2004 to give children with disabilities specialised care in a “loving environment”. The centre provides education to almost 100 children with mild to moderate mental disabilities regardless of their faith, as well as rehabilitation services such as occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, electrotherapy and physiotherapy, according to its director, Father Imad Twal.

At a celebration on Sunday, Twal said the centre presents a silent message of tolerance and peace that is more powerful than all interfaith dialogues, since the majority of the children in the centre are from the Muslim community. “It is a practical expression of the great commandment: to love your neighbour,” he noted.

Pope Francis, who will be in Jordan next Saturday, is scheduled to visit the Baptism Site and meet with children with disabilities from the centre along with Syrian and Iraqi families, according to a statement from the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media. Twal said children at the centre — with the help of volunteers from the Caritas organisation, a humanitarian charity affiliated with the Catholic Church — are preparing a “special gift” for the Pope: a framed collection of the children’s hand prints and photos.

The centre on Sunday hosted 400 Syrian and Iraqi families, who met with 40 Cardinals, the heads of Caritas branches from all around the world. The cardinals convened at the centre’s Shepherd Church and were acquainted with its service and the situation of Syrians in the Kingdom.

Twal said the families are “guests” in Jordan, not refugees. “They come as visitors and guests waiting to leave for another country,” he added.

 During the meeting, the cardinals shared encouraging words with the families, and listened to their needs and burdens. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, told The Jordan Times that holding the Caritas meeting this year in Jordan is a sign of solidarity with refugees. “We usually meet annually in Rome, but we are here to thank Caritas of Jordan for their humanitarian work.”

Archbishop Youssef Soueif, president of Caritas Cyprus, said that Caritas aims to help spread support, peace and love among people in need. “It shows love in action, and not only words,” he said.

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