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Cardinal Sandri attends inauguration of University of Madaba in Jordan

2013-05-30 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, today attended the official inauguration of the University of Madaba in Jordan, belonging to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Among those attending were His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan and other dignitaries. In his address at the inauguration, Cardinal Sandri said this new university becomes a powerful agent of interreligious dialogue and urged students and teachers to respect the religious sensibilities of each other and help heal historical wounds. (See below for full text)

The Cardinal is currently touring Jordan, having earlier visited Lebanon where he met Church leaders and Caritas staff who are helping to care for Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict in their homeland. Laurette Challlita Nassar is head of the Caritas Migrant Centre in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli and she spoke to Tracey McClure about the plight of the Syrian refugees.

Nassar describes how the refugees were forced to flee Syria with only the clothes on their backs and are struggling to get by each month in Lebanon where they are unable to afford to rent local apartments and as a result many are living in tents or in makeshift accommodation. The Syrians are often traumatised by their experiences of the war in their homeland and many of them lost loved ones during the fighting.

Insert: Listen to the interview with Laurette Nassar:

Below is the full text of Cardinal Sandri’s address in English at the University of Madaba on May 30th:


“Your Majesty, Your Beatitude, Your Excellencies, distinguished civil and ecclesiastical authorities, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great joy for me to be here and to express my deep esteem for Your Majesty. I willingly ask God to pour out His blessings upon your service and upon this noble nation, whose name derives from the river Jordan. This famous river has a tremendous significance for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was baptized in her waters. This event was a sign of the Passover that He was to accomplish, in which we recognize the source of our Christian faith.

It is my honor to present Your Majesty with the special greetings of our dear Pope Francis. He promises to hold your entire nation in his prayers, asking for prosperity, brotherhood and peace on its behalf. We recognize that Your Majesty and this dear land of Jordan with its generous people play a key role in the region of the Middle East for the building up of international solidarity and understanding. His Holiness also remembers before the Lord the teachers and students of this important Institution, that we are officially inaugurating today. On this occasion, we gratefully acknowledge His Beatitude the Patriarch and the entire Catholic Church present in this territory, of various Christian traditions, for all of their efforts and sacrifices which have made it possible to attain this much desired objective.

Nor can we omit mention of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, who, while he was Bishop of Rome, visited this nation and gave significant help to this project at its inception. Likewise, Your Majesty has been a supporter from the very beginning. We thank you wholeheartedly for the particular assistance you provided at the time of its foundation.

I also wish to greet by name the representative of the Holy See, the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Giorgio Lingua, as well as His Excellency Archbishop Maroun Lahham, the Patriarchal Vicar, the other Catholic Ordinaries, and our beloved friends representing various Christian Churches.

The significance of this University is, first and foremost, as an expression of the priority common to both Church and State: the education of youth. The perennial spring in all lands is that brought by young people. The effort to provide for them such a high quality educational program as is found in this University demonstrates our dedication to this priority. We affirm that youth is the future of humanity and of the Church. All conflicts, poverty, and miseries of most kinds can be gradually resolved, if we invest in the education of youth.

However, not any sort of education will do, but only an integral, authentically human education, which attends to the spiritual value innate in man, keeping in view his definitive goal in life, which is beyond this life. Genuine education will include a formation of the conscience which is compatible with a religious sensibility, even if specific religious doctrines are not taught. Such an education will not only seek the development of each individual but of society as well, drawing people together in the pursuit of the noblest aspects of our common humanity.

In this light, an authentic University, such as the one we are inaugurating today, becomes a powerful agent of interreligious dialogue. In the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, in which Pope Benedict XVI synthesized the great fruits which emerged from the encounter of Bishops of this region in Rome in 2010, we find an insightful description of interreligious dialogue. It is “not primarily dictated by pragmatic political or social considerations, but by underlying theological concerns which have to do with faith” (n. 19). Nonetheless, the common and respectful search for the truth about God will provide a “beautiful witness of serenity and concord between the children of Abraham” according to the Pope. “[...] The acknowledgement of one God – if lived with a pure heart – can make a powerful contribution to peace in the region and to respectful coexistence on the part of its peoples”.

Dear teachers, students and supporters of this University, be courageous witnesses to the truth which unites and never divides! Grow together in mutual respect for the religious sensibilities of each other, in reciprocity concerning practical matters, in courageous healing of historical wounds. As the primary agents of interreligious dialogue, you have the best chance to build a society truly worthy of man.
This University is a sign of the interest of the local and universal Church not only in the individuals who are fortunate enough to attend, but in the greater Jordanian society. The Church is eager to contribute to the good of every nation in which she finds herself, without threatening the culture and heritage proper to each. Be assured of the sincere greetings of Pope Francis and his encouragement for your endeavors. I invoke the blessing of God upon Your Majesty and upon all here present, and especially upon the University of Madaba. May He grant peace to our beloved Jordan. Thank you.”