Pope Shenouda III arrives Thursday on first visit to Kingdom
By Mahmoud Al Abed
AMMAN — Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III of Egypt is due to arrive in Amman on June 2 on his first ever visit to the Kingdom.
Pope Shenouda III is scheduled to take part in the meetings of the executive committee of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and hold talks with senior officials, along with a series of scheduled activities.
The Pope will chair a closed-door meeting of the committee, to be held at the Dead Sea Marriott Hotel on June 2-3, Wafaa Qussos from MECC Jordan office told The Jordan Times.
She commended the assistance her staff had received from official and other institutions to facilitate preparations for the Pope's visit.
“We had all doors open and we received every assistance we needed to prepare for the visit and the meeting,” she said.
The Pope will also visit the Baptism Site near the Jordan River on Friday.
In a seminar at the Modern Schools to mark Independence Day last week, King's Adviser and former Tourism Minister Akel Biltaji said the Pope's scheduled visit to the Baptism Site was “a recognition by the Coptic Christians of the site, where Jesus was baptised thousands of years ago.”
Pope Shenouda III's itinerary also includes a visit to Mount Nebo and other Christian religious sites in the Kingdom. On Saturday, he will lay the foundation stone for St. Antonius Monastery in Madaba, according to Father Antonius, head the Coptic Church in Abdali, Amman, which the Coptic pontiff will visit on Sunday.
Saint Antonius, a Copt from Upper Egypt, is considered the world's first Christian monk, according to Coptic Church web sources.
Father Antonius described the Pope's visit to Jordan as “historic and a big event,” saying the Kingdom's Christian sites were important to the Copts as well as other Christian sects.
According to the Coptic parish priest, his congregation in Jordan is estimated at 8,000, the majority of whom are Coptic Egyptian expatriates. Jordanian and Palestinian Coptic families whose origins go back to Egypt, also go to the Church, which was established in Jordan about 35 years ago.
The Coptic Church is based on the teachings of Saint Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero in the first century.
Qussos said the MECC's executive committee comprises 24 members, in addition to the four elected presidents of “families” or sects represented in the council, which describes itself as “a fellowship of churches relating itself to the mainstream of the modern ecumenical movement.”
Its Jordan office has been involved in several programmes, including charitable efforts. The office, she said, has been supplying refugees of the Iraq war on the Jordan-Iraq border with their daily needs for the past two years in cooperation with the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation.
The office has also implemented programmes to promote Muslim-Christian dialogue and coexistence, especially among the young generation, according to Qussos.
Sunday, May 29, 2005