Workers put the final touches on the venue of a papal Mass slated for Saturday at Amman International Stadium on Wednesday (Photo by Hassan Tamimi)
by Rula Samain | May 21, 2014 | 23:58
AMMAN — Announcing that preparations have been completed to receive Pope Francis on Saturday, official announced that more than 1,000 journalists will be covering the two-day visit.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Mohammad Momani, who is also government spokesperson, said that the press centre at the Royal Cultural Centre is ready to facilitate the 1,047 reporters from around the world who have applied to cover the event.
As for people who plan to attend the Holy Mass at Amman International Stadium, the minister noted that they will be using cards Catholic Churches in the Kingdom have distributed free of charge. “It’s the only way to enter,” he told the reporters on Wednesday.
He also announced that the visit will broadcast live, starting the minute the papal plane touches down, coupled by translation in five languages.
Momani invited journalists to tour the centre checking the facilities prepared, reminding all to receive their press badges at the centre on Thursday noon.
Momani reiterated the importance of the visit for boosting interfaith dialogue and coexistence, which the Kingdom is promoting through various initiatives at the international level.
“The papal trip exposes the Kingdom as a hub for peace and harmony to the world,” the official said.
On a different note, Tourism Minister Nidal Katamine told reporters that Jordan will seize the opportunity of the Pope’s visit to draw more of the world’s attention to Jordan’s tourism destinations, especially religious tourism revered by both Christians and Muslims.
He added that the country has over 10,000 earthed and unearthed religious and cultural heritage sites.
Katamine said that the country is expecting visitors from all around the world and is ready and equipped to accommodate all.
He noted that the Royal Jordanian has lowered the price of tickets for the occasion and thus the country is witnessing active inbound air travel, with about 5,000 people arriving from Lebanon, where the Maronite community is affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Katamine said that besides the capital’s hotels, the Catholic churches’ schools will provide accommodation for the Kingdom’s guests.
According to the minister, the tourism industry has already flourished in the past four months, as compared to the same period last year, recording a 13 per cent growth.
Welcoming a ‘special man’
General Director for the Catholic Centre for Media and Studies Father Bader shed light on the character of Pope Francis, who was declared “Person of the Year” in 2013.
He added that Pope Francis “took the Church to a new era, is a person who loves the poor and the vulnerable, and the first to wash the feet of non-Christians”, referring to a ritual performed by the pontiff, which involved Muslim girls.
Father Bader attributed the fact that the pontiff requested that the car taking him from the airport be convertible, small and not armoured shows his confidence the security situation in Jordan.
Father Bader said that His Holiness will speak in Italian during his activities, reiterating that spontaneous translation will be available.
He said that church heads will be at airport to welcome the pontiff, including Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church Fouad Twal, the Vatican Ambassador in Amman Giorgio Lingua, Archbishop Yasser Ayyash and Bishop Maroun Elias Lahham.
Father Bader said that there will be around 2,000 children from the local Catholic churches holding flags welcoming the Pope on the sideways of the airport road.