Amman/Bethany beyond the Jordan
If the opening two days of Pope Benedict XVI’s stop in Jordan, the first leg of his Middle East swing, were largely devoted to outreach to Muslims, the pontiff’s third day was clearly for the Christians – not only in Jordan, but the entire Middle East region.
To sum up the pope’s message to this embattled flock in a single word, it was “persevere.”
The pope celebrated Sunday Mass in a downtown sports stadium in Amman this morning, where the crowd included not only Jordanians but also Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians, and Christians from other countries in the region. In the afternoon, the pope visited Bethany beyond the Jordan, a site associated with the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan River.
Christians in this part of the world certainly needed the shot in the arm that a papal visit represents, since demographically speaking, their very survival is at stake.