Pope Francis vs. The Jewish Sanhedrin

Pope Francis vs. The Sanhedrin

July 09, 2015 | 

A re-established and self declared Israeli Sanhedrin, the religious High Court composed of 71 sages, has declared that it is putting Pope Francis on trial unless he retracts his statement that the Jews have no right to the land of Israel or to Jerusalem. In February 2013, the Vatican officially recognized the “State of Palestine” but more significantly, the Vatican signed a treaty in June with “Palestine” in which the Holy See switched its diplomatic relations from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the “State of Palestine”.

This treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and as such, constitutes an official recognition. The trial and judgment will be on September 20th, 2015. If Pope Francis chooses to ignore the summons, he will be judged in absentia. The Sanhedrin sent a letter to Pope Francis in reaction to the Vatican’s recent support of the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral moves to declare themselves a nation, reported the Hebrew magazine Matzav Haruach on June 24.

The letter stated: “Because the Vatican recognized the organization known as the Palestinian Authority as a nation, and has begun to refer to it as a nation in its documents. His honor has named the head of said authority as an ‘Angel of Peace’, as was explained by a spokesman for the Vatican, that his intention was to encourage Abu Mazen to advance towards peace. These actions, to our great dismay, are consistent with a long series of actions and stances that are as in the days of the Roman Catholic Religion, that swore to persecute Israel because we refused to accept their Messiah as the Messiah of Israel, and to renounce our faith. The recent announcements and actions of the Vatican are a rebuke to the Jewish Nation and to the Bible, which you use to interpret the prophecies, as if God has abandoned his original Nation of Israel. Reality has proven the opposite to be true.”

“We require from you an apology for your recognizing as a nation those who stole the land, those who are known as the Palestinian Authority, and we are informing the Vatican that the sole God given right to the land of Israel is to the Nation of Israel. If His Honor the Pope, and the Vatican, do not apologize within two weeks of receiving this letter, and if he does not change his ways, we shall judge these actions in the Court of Mount Zion, in a court of 71 Jewish elders of Zion, and enact the prophecy of ‘The liberators will rise up upon Mount Zion, to judge the Mountain of Esau and the kingdom shall be God’s’ (Obadiah 1:21). The court shall judge the Vatican in its presence or in absentia, and it is possible that the Vatican will be found guilty of anti-Semitism, as has been known to be done several times throughout history, and to place responsibility upon the Vatican for all of the outcomes of its actions.”

The letter was signed, “The Secretariat of the Court of Mount Zion”. The authorized representatives of the High Court are Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, Rabbi Dov Levanoni, Rabbi Israel Ariel, Rabbi Daniel Stavsky, Rabbi Yehuda Edri, and Rabbi Dov Meir Shtein. The Sanhedrin has no political or legal status, and clearly has no authority over the Vatican. However, it is comprised of some of the greatest rabbis of the modern Jewish nation, men who have dedicated themselves to Torah, serving God and Israel. One of the main leaders behind the revival of the Sanhedrin is Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, well known for his advocacy in strengthening non-Jewish support for Israel.

The court’s rulings have the highest spiritual significance. The commandment to appoint judges is learned directly from the Bible (Exodus 18:13) and the present Sanhedrin is an effort to reestablish a tradition dating back to Moses. Pope Francis’ recent visit to Israel and many of his actions caused disturbing waves in the difficult situation in the region. His controversial description of Abbas as an “angel of peace” led to the Vatican backtracking and attempts to placate Israel.

The Pope’s much-publicized meditation at a section of the security barrier prominently displaying pro-boycott graffiti was used by the Palestinians in an appeal to remove the much-needed security measure. That section of the wall also showed graffiti comparing the wall around Bethlehem to the Warsaw Ghetto. Pictures of the Pope’s visit to the wall went viral and became a symbol for anti-Israel sentiment.

While in Israel, Pope Francis attended Sunday mass at the Church of the Nativity. In his sermon, Latin Patriarch Fuoad Twal accused Israelis of being the present-day version of Christ killers by referring to the Palestinians as walking “in the footsteps of the Divine Child,” and likening the Israelis to King Herod. Shockingly, Pope Francis echoed his remarks in a later speech.

Pope Francis embraced the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein calling him “dear brother” in a show of great affection. In 2012, Hussein said it was the destiny of Muslims to kill Jews, who he claims are “subhuman beasts and the enemies of Allah.” Sheikh Hussein has also praised suicide bombers and said their souls “tell us to follow in their path,” remarks the Pope has never condemned.

Most significant, perhaps was a story of the Pope’s visit Caroline Glick told The Jerusalem Post. In a conversation with the Pope, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu mentioned that Jesus spoke Hebrew. Pope Francis corrected him, saying that Jesus spoke Aramaic. A flustered Netanyahu agreed that educated Jews at the time spoke Aramaic, but the language of the common people and the language Jesus preached in was Hebrew. Reuters wrote of the exchange, noting that, “Modern-day discourse about Jesus is complicated and often political.”

The report went on to explain, “Palestinians sometimes describe Jesus as a Palestinian. Israelis object to that.” Pope Francis embraced Arab leaders, but more significantly, he accepted Palestinian national status, precluding any negotiated peace process, and voiding the validity of Israel’s claim to their God-given homeland.

LINK: http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2015/July09/095.html#H3tH8MVTwwOFUGGI.99

Keep watching …

Pope says Abbas is an “angel of peace”!


Francis made the compliment during the traditional exchange of gifts
Pope calls Palestinian leader ‘angel of peace’ during visit


Jerusalem: Israel under pressure!

Israel at center of international diplomatic storm as vatican, FIFA, EU step up pressure

pope abbas

The Palestinian decision to internationalize their conflict with Israel seems to be paying off as Israel is coming under diplomatic pressure on several fronts at the same time. The Vatican decision to recognize “Palestine” as a state, an expected French-sponsored resolution to the United Nations Security Council, and the possible expulsion of Israel from FIFA (http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Sports/Israel-Football-Association-head-meets-FIFA-president-in-attempt-to-thwart-suspension-vote-402339), the international soccer federation, are creating the sense that Israel is losing the diplomatic battle.

“There is a sense of erosion,” a senior Israeli official told The Media Line on condition of anonymity.

“We see more and more countries and organizations buying into the unilateral logic of the Palestinians.”

But he warned, ultimately it will not be possible to create a Palestinian state without Israeli approval.

“No matter how much the Palestinians obtain in declarations and international organizations it can’t replace negotiations,” he said. “Palestinians have given up on negotiations and we believe it’s a huge mistake.”

The latest decision by the Vatican to sign a treaty with the state of “Palestine”, concerning the Holy See’s activities in the Palestinian Authority, comes before a weekend meeting between the Pope and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

It is an important symbolic move by the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. At the UN, the Vatican and “Palestine” are both considered non-member observer states. In a statement, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the decision.

“The significance of this decision goes beyond the political and legal into the symbolic and moral domains and sends a message to all people of conscience that the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination, formal recognition, freedom, and statehood,” she said in a statement.

Some Israeli analysts said the move by the Vatican, while purely symbolic, was nevertheless important.

“It’s a big deal because the Pope is the spiritual leader of hundreds of millions of Christians,” Eytan Gilboa of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. “Christians are being murdered all over the Middle East but what is important for him is the particular recognition of Palestine.”

But others said that Israel should be more concerned about its relationship with the US, then with the Vatican.

“This has basically been Vatican policy all along,” Amiel Ungar, an Israeli commentator. “The big enchilada is how much the Obama administration is behind the European moves.”

France is expected to soon present a new resolution to the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state. In the past, the US has vetoed all such resolutions, but after the election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US has said it will “reassess” that decision.

The guidelines of Netanyahu’s new government does not include any mention of a Palestinian state, a change from the previous government. A group of former European leaders and diplomats has called for more pressure on Israel, and charges that EU political and financial aid has achieved nothing but the “preservation of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and imprisonment of Gaza.”

At the same time, the Palestinians have been campaigning in FIFA, the international football federation, to suspend Israel’s membership or to level sanctions on Israel for limiting the free movement of Palestinian soccer players and refusing them permission to travel abroad. The 200 national leagues in FIFA are expected to vote on the resolution in the coming weeks.

All of this is expected to lead to growing international pressure on Israel, but it could also end up backfiring and encouraging Palestinians to stay away from the negotiating table.

“Israel has only three cards it can use with the Palestinians – giving up territory, international recognition, and the release of Palestinian prisoners,” Eytan Gilboa said. “But if they get the recognition without any negotiations, what motivation do they have to negotiate with Israel?”

LINK: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israel-at-center-of-international-diplomatic-storm-as-vatican-FIFA-EU-step-up-pressure-403201


Israel ‘disappointed’ Vatican reached agreement recognizing Palestinian state


Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.

When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.

The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.

(1 Kings 8:1-11, New International Version)

Francis is Petrus Romanus?

Fascinating …

Is he, in fact, Petrus Romanus?

 Copied from APN (http://allpinoynews.com)

IN this season of Lent, we shall deviate from our regular production of insurance-related articles to tackle a more spiritual discourse, but not exactly spiritual. We give way to other human needs and to feed, as well, the necessities of our faith.  I am referring to the papal predictions by Saint Malachy.

As a high-school student in the 1980s, I purchased an innocuous book, titled Book of Predictions, which compiled hundreds of predictions by dozens of soothsayers, from Nostradamus to forgettable quacks. Toward the end of the book was a section on “Saint Malachy’s Papal Predictions.” This was in the 1980s and the incumbent pope at that time was, of course, Pope John Paul II. In reading the book, the natural query was, who would be the next pope after John Paul II?

The book credits Malachy for “accurately” forecasting the identity of every single Roman Catholic pope from 1143 A.D. He predicts the popes by using descriptive terms which can be associated with the pope. And he gave these terms in the sequence by which the popes would succeed. In the case of Pope Paul VI, for example, Malachy predicted using the words: “flower of flowers.” Paul VI was eventually represented by Flos Florum and his coat of arms showed three fleurs-de-lis. John Paul II’s successor was predicted with the phrase Gloria Olivae or “glory of the olive.” Prior to the assumption of Pope Benedict, almost all interpreted that the next pope would be from the Benedictine Order for the order is also known by another name: Olivetans. Instead, Cardinal Ratzinger chose to be known as Pope Benedict.

Succeeding Gloria Olivae is Petrus Romanus. What is earth-shaking of Malachy’s predictions is that Petrus Romanus is the last on the list, triggering the speculation that Petrus Romanus is the last pope. The naming for Petrus Romanus comes with a prediction that “the 7-hilled city will be destroyed.”

In 1909 it was reported that Pope Pius X had a vision, after which he allegedly uttered, “What I see is terrifying. Will it be myself? Will it be my successor? What is certain is that the pope will quit Rome, and in leaving the Vatican, he will have to walk over the dead bodies of his priests.”

Among the other books I have read is the book on the Fatima apparitions in Portugal. Any devotee would, of course, know about the three secrets of the Fatima. The Third Secret remained a secret until it was finally revealed on June 26, 2000. That third secret, of a 1917 vision, was written in a letter made in 1944. The letter stated:

“We saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the Earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’

“And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.”

The apparition at Fatima has received full recognition of the Catholic Church.

In March Pope Francis spoke about the possibility of being assassinated. Pope Francis has said: “Life is in God’s hands. I have said to the Lord, ‘You take care of me. But if it is Your will that I die or something happens to me, I ask You only one favor: that it doesn’t hurt. Because I am a real wimp when it comes to physical pain’” And quiet oddly, just a few weeks ago, he spoke about serving as pontiff for “another two or three years,” adding: “I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time” and that he had “a vague sensation he would not reign as pope for long.

In the same month he made a surprise announcement declaring a massive holy festival on the month of December to mark the Extraordinary Jubilee Year beginning December 8. The last jubilee was in 1983 called by John Paul II to celebrate the 1,950 years since Jesus Christ’s redemption. The theme of the festival is mercy. It is expected to draw millions of Catholics to Rome and the Vatican. Almost simultaneously, the Islamic State militants “singled out” the Vatican for possible attack, showing online the group’s black flag flying over Saint Peter’s Basilica. This was released together with images of the beheaded 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt. The Islamic State’s propaganda magazine Dabiq ran a cover photo of the militant group’s flag flying above the Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican with the headline: “The failed crusade.” In the February 22 issue of the USA Today, it was reported that the terrorist group called Italy “the nation signed with the blood of the cross.” The Italian Interior Ministry is reported to be making plans to deploy 5,000 police officers to Rome after their deployment for the Milan Expo, which will end in October this year.

The Vatican has officially remained silent about these threats.

Keep watching …

Obama and Pope Francis Teaming Up?

Obama and Pope Francis Teaming Up to Push Liberal Agendas in 2015

The Pope has struck a liberal tone on certain key issues and has even agreed to address the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on the importance of combating climate change- a catch-all term favored by liberals to encompass any slight variance in weather.
The Pope is expected to address the United Nations in 2015 on the issue and call for a summit of world religious leaders from many different faiths to discuss the issue.
Further, the Pope was reportedly involved in the recent thawing of relations with Cuba, a nation that has been on-the-outs with the U.S. for a half-century due to the Communist dictatorship that infests the imprisoned island.
The Pontiff has also spoken-out against trickle-down economics, the economic policy that serves as a generator of economic growth and is aimed more at providing opportunities for the poor rather than mere handouts and government dependency.
As Pope Francis crusades for liberal political issues, it seems clear that Obama, who has served as arguably the most-hostile president to religion in history, has found a true ally and a way to help mend fences with Catholics who have taken issue with his extreme secular agenda.
The Washington Times reports:
President Obama increasingly is finding a key policy ally in the Vatican, with Pope Francis standing virtually shoulder to shoulder with the White House on income inequality and a historic diplomatic reboot with communist Cuba. The pontiff next year also appears poised to offer greater support to the president on climate change initiatives and reportedly wants to be a leading voice at a U.N. global warming summit next year, where the American president will make perhaps his greatest pitch to date for more dramatic action on the environment.
But in the long term, analysts say, Democrats may pay something of a political price.
To soothe American Catholics, who may have grown suspicious of the church’s partnership with a liberal White House, the pope in the coming months and years is likely to zero in on fundamental disagreements with the Democratic Party on issues such as abortion and religious liberty, said Joseph Prud’homme, a political science professor and the director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College.
“I believe Francis will remind the faithful in his position as supreme pastor about what he has consistently said about life and religious liberty. I hope, and I expect, that he will, after these initiatives [on Cuba and climate change], remind the faithful of the unending position of the church with respect to the sanctity of human life, the importance of religious liberty,” Mr. Prud’homme said.
He added that Francis could create a deeper, almost irreparable rift between the church and the Democratic Party and create further headaches for liberal Catholics in electoral politics unless the Democratic Party “changes and recalibrates its center of gravity away from these issues which, from the position of the church, represent grave and serious moral error.”
While abortion and other moral issues represent a philosophical chasm between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party, the past several years have proved the two can work together.
The White House praised the pope this month for playing a critical role in a landmark deal with Cuba, one in which the U.S. will re-establish formal diplomatic ties and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than five decades.
Francis invited administration officials and representatives of Cuban President Raul Castro’s government to the Vatican for a series of meetings this fall. The first Latin American pope also sent letters to Mr. Obama and Mr. Castro, urging the two leaders to change course and end the isolation of the past 50 years.
“He played a very important role,” Mr. Obama said of the pontiff in an interview with ABC News this month. “The pope doesn’t wield armies. He can’t impose sanctions. But he can speak with great moral authority, and it makes a difference. And it certainly made a difference in this case.”…
The pope also has become one of the Democrats’ biggest allies on income inequality, which Mr. Obama has cast as perhaps the biggest challenge facing the U.S. economy today.
Last year, Francis offered a clear rejection of “trickle-down economics,” seemingly embracing Democratic policies of greater redistribution of wealth to struggling Americans.
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” he said. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
High-profile Democrats, such as Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, cited the pope’s words when arguing for more government spending on programs to aid low-income Americans and to shrink the wage gap between the rich and the poor.
“Those of us in America should pay heed” to the pontiff’s words, he said after Francis’ comments on income inequality.
Of course, helping the poor is a very Christian message; however, the kind of policies pushed by Obama and other leftist zealots only bind the poor to government dependency and President Obama’s radically-secular agenda and war on religion should be enough to spook the Pope from associating too-closely with a man who serves as one of the most-hostile leaders to religious freedom in the civilized world. 
LINK: http://www.tpnn.com/2014/12/31/obama-and-pope-francis-teaming-up-to-push-liberal-agendas-in-2015/
Keep watching …

‘The Final Pope’ in the Middle East

Pope kicks off Mideast peace summit of prayer

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Vatican officials insist no political agenda is lurking behind Pope Francis’ invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray for peace together in the Vatican gardens, and no concrete initiatives are expected.

But Sunday’s unusual summit — with Jewish, Christian and Muslim prayers intoned in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica — could take on great significance on the ground. And it will certainly enhance Francis’ reputation as a leader unhindered by diplomatic and theological protocol who is willing to take risks for the sake of peace.

The prayer was organized in the two weeks since Francis first made the surprise invitation from the biblical city of Bethlehem. On Sunday, he asked the crowd attending his weekly noon blessing to join in with their own prayers as well.

As Palestinian flags fluttered in the breeze, Francis pressed the importance of “surprise” in the Catholic Church, saying a church that doesn’t have the ability to surprise with its message of love is “weak, sick and dying and needs CPR.”

Francis showed himself a master of improvisation and surprise during his trip to the Mideast, stopping to pray at the Israeli security barrier surrounding Bethlehem and then, at Israel’s request, changing his busy itinerary to pray at a memorial to Jews killed in suicide bombings and other attacks.

But it was his invitation to Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — two men who signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993 — to come to “my home” to pray for peace that captured imaginations and led to Sunday’s common call for peace on a patch of lawn inside the Vatican walls.


“In the Middle East, symbolic gestures and incremental steps are important,” noted the Rev. Thomas Reese, a veteran Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter. “And who knows what conversations can occur behind closed doors in the Vatican.”

The meeting will mark a delicate balancing act of faith and politics: It will begin with three separate and purely religious prayers for peace in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. The Israeli and Palestinian presidents along with the pope will then deliver remarks, with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, along to witness the whole thing.

Vatican officials have described the evening as something of a “time-out” in political negotiations, the last round of which collapsed in failure in April. They say it is merely designed to rekindle the desire and dream for peace.

Peres has no formal role in peace negotiations, holds a largely ceremonial post and leaves office at the end of the month.

But Nadav Tamir, a political adviser to Peres, said Sunday the Israeli government supported the trip and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in “constant contact” with Peres. Speaking on Israeli Army Radio, Tamir stressed the meeting was not political, even though he said Peres and Abbas were expected to discuss political developments when they meet in private after the prayer.

Netanyahu had urged the world to shun Abbas’ new unity government which took office last week because it is backed by the Islamic militant group Hamas. His pleas have been ignored by the West, with both the U.S. and the European Union saying they will give the unity government a chance.

Peres’ participation thus undermines Netanyahu’s attempts to isolate the Palestinians, and instead adds to the growing isolation of Netanyahu’s hard-line position. Netanyahu’s office has declined repeated requests for comment about the Vatican summit.

“The government of Israel decided not to hold political negotiations, but we aren’t talking about political negotiations. We are talking about a different gesture, a spiritual gesture, an act of public diplomacy,” Tamir said.

Abbas, for his part, told Italian daily La Repubblica that Francis’ invitation was “an act of great courage.”

“Nothing should stop us in the search for solutions so that both of our people can live in their own sovereign state,” he was quoted as saying in Sunday’s editions.

Josef Federman and Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed.

LINK: http://news.yahoo.com/pope-kicks-off-mideast-peace-summit-prayer-100254948.html



The “Prophecy of the Popes” is attributed to St. Malachy.  In his predication, dated 1139, Malachy prophesied that there would be 112 more popes before Judgment. Pope Francis is the 112th pope.

Some believe that the “second beast coming out of the earth” — also called “the false prophet” by John, the author of Revelation —  will eventually prove to be a Roman Catholic Pope. According to Revelation 13, this prophesied individual will bring about “the mark” which will (according to prophecy) be needed to “buy or sell” when the time comes for him to force “all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads.”

I encourage my readers to look up Revelation 13 in a translation of the Bible that is more easily understood than the King James Version. Then look up and read Revelation 16:13, 19:20 and 20:10.

Watching this “last pope” very carefully …

The Pope arrives in the epicenter

The Pope arrives in the epicenter. Meets with Jordan’s King. Heads to Baptism Site.

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm

by Joel C. Rosenberg

King Abdullah II and Queen Rania welcome Pope Francis to Jordan and introduce him to the Crown Prince.


Pope Francis began his first official trip to the epicenter today. It’s an important trip, to be sure. But what’s intriguing to me is how big a deal this visit is being treated by the Muslim leaders of Jordan, and the Jewish leaders of Israel. Both sides seek better relations with Christians in general, and Catholics in particular.

Given that the Pope began his Mideast travels in Amman, Jordan, today, let’s start there.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of traveling to Jordan. During my trip, I met with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Ghazi, and other top officials. As I wrote about at the time, I was doing research for a new book, as well trying to understand His Majesty’s intriguing efforts to build stronger ties between Muslim and Christian leaders. Indeed, a major topic of discussion while I was there was the Pope’s upcoming visit, the third visit by a Pontiff since King Abdullah II ascended to the throne in 1999.

HRH Prince Ghazi specifically encouraged me to visit the Baptism Site along the East Bank of the Jordan River and learn more about its special history and importance. He even provided a car and driver and asked the director of the site to give me a personal tour and briefing. It was a fascinating time (read about it here), especially given the approaching papal visit.

“We are part of the Holy Land,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour told me during our meeting at his office in Amman.

“Moses came here and died here,” he noted, as did many prophets, including Elijah. “And we are very proud that Jesus came here and was baptized here,” he added.

Ensour noted that “there are very few places where you can be sure the feet of Christ tread on them.” But Jordan is one of them, he said. He pointed specifically to the Baptism Site located along the east bank of the Jordan River, which he described as of the “utmost importance.”

“There you find exactly half an acre where we know Jesus came, where John the Baptist lived,” he told me.

Today, after months of preparation and anticipation, Pope Francis finally arrived, and the Jordan’s have literally rolled out the red carpet.

“Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania, and Crown Prince Hussein, received Pope Francis at Husseinieh Palace in Amman on Saturday,” reports the Jordan Times. “The King stressed the importance of the message of tolerance, peace and coexistence the Pope is delivering to the region.”

“The Pontiff arrived in Amman as part of a three-day visit to the Holy Land,” the Times noted. “At the meeting with the Pope, King Abdullah said the papal visit delivers an important message of tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and Christians. The King and the Pontiff discussed Jordan-Vatican ties and the need to strengthen dialogue between Muslims and Christians. In his welcoming speech, His Majesty said that it was a ‘special honour’ for the Kingdom that the Pope’s pilgrimage begins in Jordan. The King said that the first official papal visit to a Muslim country was to Jordan, about 50 years ago.”

“It is a special honour that your pilgrimage to the Holy Land begins here, in Jordan: land of faith, land of fellowship,” said King Abdullah II. “Here, fifty years ago, my late father His Majesty King Hussein welcomed Pope Paul the Sixth — the first official papal visit to a Muslim country. Here, fourteen years ago, I was privileged to welcome Saint John Paul the Second; and five years ago, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth.”

King Abdullah said that Muslims and Christians in Jordan are building a shared future “on the common ground of mutual respect, peace and devotion to God,” reported the Times. “Pope Francis commended Jordan’s ‘generous welcome’ to Syrian refugees, which, he said, commands international appreciation and support.”

“I thank the authorities of the Kingdom for all they are doing and I encourage them to persevere in their efforts to seek lasting peace for the entire region,” Pope Francis said.

NOTE: Please follow me on Twitter for updates on the Pope’s visit over the next few days. Thanks.

LINK: http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/the-pope-arrives-in-the-epicenter-meets-with-jordans-king-heads-to-baptism-site/