Remarks by Archbishop Gabriele Caccia
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
and President of the Path to Peace Foundation
at the 2022 Path to Peace Gala Dinner
“583 Park”, New York, May 9, 2022
Mr. Supreme Knight,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great joy to be able to welcome you all this evening to the 2022 Path to Peace Gala Dinner. Tonight, we finally accomplish a long-awaited desire, one first expressed in 2015 by my predecessor, as President of the Board of the Path to Peace Foundation, namely to honor Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan for their remarkable work at the service of peace in a cherished but troubled region, the Middle East, and also in the wider world.
It has been worth the wait. In fact, this year we can join with His Majesty King Abdullah II in celebrating his sixtieth birthday. [Happy Birthday Your Majesty! May you have many happy returns.]
What’s more, the award is given to His Majesty the King together with his wife, Her Majesty Queen Rania; something which has a special meaning in this year of celebration for the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, on love in the family, and here we have a beautiful example of its importance as the primary building block for a world of peace.
Moreover, I am humbled by the kindness of His Majesty King Abdullah II, who notwithstanding a very tight schedule, wanted to spend time with us tonight.
Your Majesties, you have graciously accepted our invitation knowing who we are: the “Path to Peace Foundation”. Our roots are in the greeting of the risen Christ to his Apostles: “Peace be with you!”. Wishing peace as a first greeting is common practice in all cultures in the Middle East: As-salamu alaikum! Peace be upon you! Spreading the message of peace is the mission of the Church, and a reason for the presence of the Foundation, which supports the mission of the Holy See among all peoples at the United Nations.
We appreciate peace and actively seek the paths that lead to it. We want to recognize examples: persons, who in word and deed, have travelled along this path and are actively looking for new ways of peace.
We recognize just how precious peace is when it is no longer present; its absence shocks us, as now in the Ukraine, where war has claimed countless lives and opened wounds that will take generations to heal. Alas, many other conflicts currently scar our world: in Syria, Yemen, and the Sahel, to name but a few. The list is long, too long.
There are parts of our world that have not known peace for a long time; communities, indeed, generations have been shaped by conflict and enmity. It is precisely in these places that the voices calling for peace are to be heard the loudest. The testimony of those who have lived in conflict and have been wounded by it, both literally and figuratively, and yet still seek peace and reconciliation, is a force for change in our world. Those who have seen violence beget violence know very well that peace is the only answer.
Your Majesty King Abdullah, you have witnessed the suffering and bloodshed in the Middle East, and yet you have constantly sought to foster peace at home, in the region and on the world stage. Your country has become a haven for those fleeing from tyranny and conflict elsewhere. Your engagement with religious leaders and your involvement with the process that led to the Amman Messages demonstrate your commitment not just to religious tolerance but also to interfaith dialogue, seeking “A Common Word between Us and You”. This culminated in your proposal, adopted by the UN General Assembly, to establish a “World Interfaith Harmony Week” to be celebrated every year. Moreover, your recent recommitment to protecting the sacred places of the Holy Land, shows that you regard Christians as an integral part of the history and cultural fabric of the Arab World and the Middle East. What is more, in the international arena you are tireless in advocating lasting solutions for conflict resolution and peace in the region.
Your Majesty Queen Rania, your concern for the questions of education, connectivity and cross-cultural dialogue, as well as sustainability, the environment and migration, places young people at the heart of solutions and is imbued with a sense of hope. If only we would cooperate, as you so rightly say, “together, we’d realize the problems that seem overwhelming are actually manageable. Together, we’d see we can heal our planet.” 1
All true paths to peace are recognizable because of their common traits; a profound respect for the inherent dignity of each human being; the desire to enter into a genuine relationship through dialogue; and the fostering of a spirit of fraternity and social friendship, or as Pope Francis would call it a “culture of encounter”.
We have witnessed this spirit of “encounter” when Your Majesties welcomed no fewer than three Pontiffs to Jordan: Pope St. John Paul II (2000), Pope Benedict XVI (2009), and Pope Francis (2014). They had full trust in you, as was shown when Pope Francis, on the banks of the River Jordan, willingly climbed into a cart with Your Majesty at the wheel.
During his visit, Pope Francis expressed particular thanks for the welcome Jordan was offering, and still does, to refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria.2 We all know how much the issue of refugees and migrants is one of global scale, one which needs global solutions. Pope Francis went on, therefore, saying: “I thank the authorities of the Kingdom for all that they are doing, and I encourage them to persevere in their efforts to seek lasting peace for the entire region.” 3
Finally, Your Majesty King Abdullah, we recognize your continued endeavors in favor of peace at a global level. Indeed, you have repeatedly used your speeches to the General Assembly of the United Nations to call for collective action. You recently recalled that “the U.N. was born […] out of a deep desire to protect new generations from suffering, destruction, and want,” but that, “today, these hopes still face challenges.”4 You went further, adding: “these challenges do not make collective action and mutual respect less important. They make our partnership more important. Because what is the alternative?”5 Indeed, if we do not work together, do not seek a true partnership as a family of nations, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. The only way is the path to peace.
And so, in recognition of your service to the promotion of peace, it gives me great honor and joy to present the 2022 Path to Peace Award to Your Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan.
- H.M. QUEEN RANIA, Remarks at the Earthshot Prize Innovation Showcase, Dubai, February 10, 2022
- Cf. POPE FRANCIS, Meeting with the Authorities of the Kingdom of Jordan, Amman, May 24, 2014
- H.M. KING ABDULLAH II, Address to the Plenary Session of the 73rd UNGA, September 25, 2018.