June 13, 2014 – At the invitation of King Abdullah II of Jordan, Georgetown President John J. DeGioia joined world leaders in Amman last month to welcome Pope Francis during his historic visit to the Holy Land.
During the trip, DeGioia also deepened Georgetown’s ties with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), and visited with refugee families near the Jordanian-Syrian border.
DeGioia was particularly moved by the Holy Father’s comments during a welcoming event at the Jordanian Royal Palace: “May God protect us from the fear of change.”
“These words were deeply moving – especially at the beginning of the Holy Father’s visit to a region that desperately demands change,” the president said.
In welcoming the Holy Father to Jordan, King Abdullah II, who studied at Georgetown, emphasized the need to find common ground.
“Where ideologues spread ignorance and distrust, our joined voices can bring understanding and good will,” the king said. “Where lives have been shattered by injustice and violence, our united efforts can help bring healing and hope.”
Over the past several years, DeGioia says King Abdullah II has made an enduring commitment to interreligious understanding, and to ensuring that those seeking refuge from crises throughout the region are treated with dignity and respect.
In 2004, King Abdullah II issued the Amman Message, which called for peace, tolerance and dialogue among faiths.
Three years later, he played a founding role in the interreligious initiative A Common Word Between Us and You. Georgetown has partnered with A Common Word,convening conferences and other opportunities for dialogue and scholarship.
During his visit, DeGioia joined JRS colleagues in visiting refugee families living in Irbid, Jordan, near the Jordanian-Syrian border.
JRS provides social and welfare services to refugee populations throughout the world, and also administers online learning opportunities through Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM).DeGioia serves on JC:HEM’s Board of Trustees and Georgetown provides technological services that support JC:HEM’s online programs.
“The daily challenges facing refugees – whether constrained living conditions, public health risks, or access to education and healthcare – are the spaces through which JRS enters,” DeGioia said. “The organization’s methodology of accompaniment is important to emphasize –it is in the spirit of companionship, through living the challenges together, that a very profound, authentic and lasting impact can be made.”
“It was deeply moving to witness this work in Jordan, and Georgetown is honored to partner with JRS and JC:HEM, recognizing how vast and urgent the need remains,” he added.