Amman - Abouna
Abouna.org, Dec. 1, 2014 - With Christmas celebrations approaching, Latin Church in Naour celebrated on Sunday November 30, lighting up “Christmas tree of solidarity” with the displaced Iraqis from Mosul at the centre abutting the church that houses them.
Marking advent time and amid the prevalent atmosphere of hymns and prayers, the Christmas tree was lit up at the centre, which is enlivened by the displaced Iraqi families, in preparation for Christmas celebrations.
At the Sunday evening Mass that preceded the lighting up celebration, parish priest Fr. Rif’at Bader said: “We have named this tree ‘the solidarity tree’ because this word reflects purity and humanitarian values that transcend ethnic and religious differences. This made the Jordanian King, government and people rush to rescue the suffering brethren from neighboring countries, especially Syria and Iraq.”
He added: “The Iraqi groups that arrived in Jordan recently fleeing religious injustice were warmly welcomed by our dear Kingdom according to the directives of His Majesty the King. The doors were wide open because the approach of the Kingdom and the Hashemites is to respect the religious components and pluralism that have always brightened the Middle East, which is the origin of civilizations and religions whose message is to unite rather than separate.”
Fr. Rif’at Bader continued: “We express our pride and pleasure as we celebrate Christmas this year with our Iraqi brethren while trying-- in spite of the pain of displacement—to map out a smile on the faces of children who have the right to rejoice in the Christmas atmosphere like other children of the world.”
He said: “This would have not happened, had it not been for Jordan's overture policy and the directives of His Majesty the King, for the King is not only the protector of the holy sites in Jerusalem but rather he is the first defender of Christian Arab identity, of the grand pluralism, as well as of the sincere and meaningful dialogue between the followers of all religions.
Later, Fr. Bader read out the joint statement, which was signed on Sunday, November 30, in Istanbul by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and incorporated a message of encouragement to the displaced Christians. It says: “We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years. Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many. As Saint Paul reminds us, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12:26).”
Amid the distinguished joy which the displaced Iraqis experience this year, away from their country and their churches, many of them expressed their joy and gratitude to the Kingdom of Jordan, with its Muslims and Christians, and thanked all charities, especially Caritas Jordan, the Pontifical Mission in Jordan, and the individuals who rush these days to present gifts to the displaced children and families. Many of them said: "Had it not been for Jordan, the King of Jordan, and the people of Jordan, we would have not celebrated Christmas this year."