ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

Breaking Barriers

A pictorial journey to the Holy Land

From 24-26 May 2014, the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, made a historic pilgrimage to Jordan, Palestine and Israel, marking the 50th anniversary of the meeting in Jerusalem between his predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople. The primary purpose of Francis’ visit was to commemorate an event that began the ecumenical movement between Catholic and Orthodox Christians. The pope also utilized the pilgrimage to focus on several themes pertinent to his papacy: the folly of war, the plight of displaced peoples, poverty and the necessity for dialogue among all peoples and faiths.

Following are excerpts from the pope’s speeches and homilies, which speak poignantly of these issues affecting all who live in the region. The complete texts are available on our website,

Amman, Saturday

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict that has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits, your majesty, the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need. …

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of his majesty the king in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. You are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker: Thank you! I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding among Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

International Stadium, Amman, Saturday

The mission of the Holy Spirit, in fact, is to beget harmony — he is himself harmony — and to create peace in different situations and between different people. Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches. …

Peace is not something that can be bought or sold; peace is a gift to be sought patiently and to be “crafted” through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened if we realize we are all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we never forget we have the same Father in heaven and that we are all his children, made in his image and likeness. …

Let us ask the Spirit to prepare our hearts to encounter our brothers and sisters, so we may overcome our differences rooted in political thinking, language, culture and religion. Let us ask him to anoint our whole being with the oil of his mercy, which heals the injuries caused by mistakes, misunderstandings and disputes.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Saturday

We are profoundly affected by the tragedies and suffering of our times, particularly those caused by ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. … All of us want peace! But as we observe this tragic conflict [in Syria], seeing these wounds, seeing so many people who have left their homeland, forced to do so, I ask myself: Who is selling arms to these people to make war?

Behold the root of evil! Hatred and financial greed in the manufacturing and sale of arms. This should make us think about who is responsible for this situation, for providing arms to those in conflict and thereby sustaining such conflict. Let us think about this and with sincere hearts let us call upon these poor criminals to change their ways. …

I urge the international community not to leave Jordan, who is so welcoming and so courageous, alone in the task of meeting the humanitarian emergency caused by the arrival of so great a number of refugees, but to continue and even increase its support and assistance.

Manger Square, Bethlehem, Sunday

Children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human. Here we can think of the work carried out by the Ephpheta Paul VI Institute for hearing- and speech-impaired Palestinian children: It is a very real sign of God’s goodness. It is a clear sign that society is healthier. …

Sadly, in this world, with all its highly developed technology, great numbers of children continue to live in inhuman situations, on the fringes of society, in the peripheries of great cities and in the countryside. All too many children continue to be exploited, maltreated, enslaved, prey to violence and illicit trafficking. Still, too many children live in exile, as refugees, at times lost at sea, particularly in the waters of the Mediterranean. Today, in acknowledging this, we feel shame before God, before God who became a child. …

In a world that daily discards tons of food and medicine, there are children, hungry and suffering from easily curable diseases, who cry out in vain. In an age that insists on the protection of minors, there is a flourishing trade in weapons that end up in the hands of child-soldiers, there is a ready market for goods produced by the slave labor of small children.

Ben Gurion International Airport, Sunday

In the footsteps of my predecessors, I have come as a pilgrim to the Holy Land, rich in history and home to the principal events in the origin and growth of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As such, it is of immense spiritual significance for a great part of humanity. So I express my hope and prayer this blessed land may be one that has no place for those who, by exploiting and absolutizing the value of their own religious tradition, prove intolerant and violent towards those of others. …

In union with all men and women of good will, I implore those in positions of responsibility to leave no stone unturned in the search for equitable solutions to complex problems, so that Israelis and Palestinians may live in peace. The path of dialogue, reconciliation and peace must constantly be taken up anew, courageously and tirelessly.

Apostolic Delegation, Jerusalem, Sunday

Our meeting, another encounter of the bishops of the churches of Rome and Constantinople founded respectively by the two brothers the Apostles Peter and Andrew, is a source of profound spiritual joy for us. It presents a providential occasion to reflect on the depth and the authenticity of our existing bonds, themselves the fruit of a grace-filled journey on which the Lord has guided us since that blessed day of 50 years ago. …

Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey toward the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity. We call to mind with profound gratitude the steps the Lord has already enabled us to undertake. …

Over these years, God, the source of all peace and love, has taught us to regard one another as members of the same Christian family, under one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to love one another, so that we may confess our faith in the same Gospel of Christ, as received by the apostles and expressed and transmitted to us by the ecumenical councils and the church fathers. While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together toward the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). …

United in our intentions, and recalling the example, 50 years ago here in Jerusalem, of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, we call upon all Christians, together with believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will, to recognize the urgency of the hour that compels us to seek the reconciliation and unity of the human family, while fully respecting legitimate differences for the good of all humanity and of future generations.

Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Sunday

Let us receive the special grace of this moment. We pause in reverent silence before this empty tomb in order to rediscover the grandeur of our Christian vocation: We are men and women of resurrection, and not of death. From this place we learn how to live our lives, the trials of our churches and of the whole world, in the light of Easter morning. Every injury, every one of our pains and sorrows has been borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, who offered himself in sacrifice and thereby opened the way to eternal life. His open wounds are like the cleft through which the torrent of his mercy is poured out upon the world. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the basis of our hope, which is this: Christòs anesti!

Jerusalem, Monday

A pilgrim is a person who makes himself poor and sets forth on a journey. … This was how Abraham lived, and this should be our spiritual attitude. We can never think ourselves self-sufficient, masters of our own lives. We cannot be content with remaining withdrawn, secure in our convictions. Before the mystery of God we are all poor. We realize we must constantly be prepared to go out from ourselves, docile to God’s call and open to the future that he wishes to create for us. …

In our earthly pilgrimage we are not alone. We cross paths with other faithful; at times we share with them a stretch of the road and at other times we experience with them a moment of rest that refreshes us. Such is our meeting today, for which I am particularly grateful.

Jerusalem, Monday

“Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) Where are you, o man? What have you come to? In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: “Adam, where are you?” This question is charged with all the sorrow of a father who has lost his child. The Father knew the risk of freedom; he knew his children could be lost… yet perhaps not even the Father could imagine so great a fall, so profound an abyss! Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, that cry — “Where are you?” — echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss.

Presidential Residence, Jerusalem, Monday

Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker. I appreciate and admire the approach you have taken. Peacemaking demands first and foremost respect for the dignity and freedom of every human person, which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe to be created by God and destined to eternal life. This shared conviction enables us resolutely to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict. Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions that contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity. …

There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims. We think, for example, of recourse to violence and terrorism, all forms of discrimination on the basis of race or religion, attempts to impose one’s own point of view at the expense of the rights of others, anti-Semitism in all its possible expressions, and signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

Heichal Shlomo Center, Jerusalem, Monday

We need to do more than simply establish reciprocal and respectful relations on a human level: We are also called, as Christians and Jews, to reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the bond existing between us. It is a bond whose origins are from on high, one which transcends our own plans and projects, and one which remains intact despite all the difficulties that, sadly, have marked our relationship in the past. …

On the part of Catholics, there is a clear intention to reflect deeply on the significance of the Jewish roots of our own faith. I trust that, with your help, on the part of Jews, too, there will be a continued and even growing interest in knowledge of Christianity, also in this holy land to which Christians trace their origins. This is especially to be hoped for among young people. …

Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common, and respect in matters on which we disagree — all these can help to guide us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God’s hands.

Church of Gethsemane, Mount of Olives, Monday

Here, at Gethsemane, following [Jesus] became difficult and uncertain; [his disciples] were overcome by doubt, weariness and fright. As the events of Jesus’ passion rapidly unfolded, the disciples would adopt different attitudes before the master: attitudes of closeness, distance, hesitation. …

Here, in this place, each of us — bishops, priests, consecrated persons and seminarians — might do well to ask: Who am I, before the sufferings of my Lord?

Am I among those who, when Jesus asks them to keep watch with him, fall asleep instead, and rather than praying, seek to escape, refusing to face reality?

Or do I see myself in those who fled out of fear, who abandoned the master at the most tragic hour in his earthly life? …

Jesus’ friendship with us, his faithfulness and his mercy, are a priceless gift that encourages us to follow him trustingly, notwithstanding our failures, our mistakes, also our betrayals.

The Upper Room, Jerusalem, Monday

Here, where Jesus shared the Last Supper with the apostles; where, after his resurrection, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit descended with power upon Mary and the disciples, here the church was born, and she was born to go forth. From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart. …

The Upper Room speaks to us of service, of Jesus giving the disciples an example by washing their feet. …

The Upper Room reminds us, through the Eucharist, of sacrifice. …

The Upper Room reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony and peace among ourselves. How much love and goodness has flowed from the Upper Room! How much charity has gone forth from here, like a river from its source, beginning as a stream and then expanding and becoming a great torrent. All the saints drew from this source; and hence the great river of the church’s holiness continues to flow: from the heart of Christ, from the Eucharist and from the Holy Spirit.

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español