Father Mauro Gambetti, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a ceremony at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy March 29, 2019. Abdullah was awarded the Lamp of Peace, a top Catholic peace prize presented by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi. (Credit: Yara Nardi/Reuters via CNS.)
AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged greater cooperation to take on serious challenges worldwide as he was awarded a top Catholic peace prize by the Conventual Franciscans of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in central Italy.
The annual award, known as the Lamp of Peace, recognizes King Abdullah II’s tireless promotion of peace in the troubled Middle East, support of interreligious dialogue, welcome of refugees and educational reforms.
“To me, the Lamp of Peace of St. Francis symbolizes how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community,” Abdullah told a packed St. Francis Basilica, housing the saint’s relics and the renowned fresco series of his life.
“But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding,” Abdullah emphasized, receiving strong applause.
“It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges – to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity,” the king told the assembly. Among the crowd were last year’s award recipient, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti presented the Lamp of Peace to the king.
Abdullah asked for a moment of silence to “remember the suffering families and victims of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, two weeks ago. Such evil, wherever it happens, is our suffering, too.”
As Jordan’s Hashemite monarch, the 41st-generation direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah has upheld the importance of the Christian presence in his country and the Middle East.
“The principles of coexistence and interfaith harmony are deeply embedded in Jordan’s heritage,” he said. “Our country is home to a historic Christian community. All our citizens actively share in building our strong nation. Indeed, Christians have been part of Middle East societies for thousands of years and are vital to the future of our region.”