Age: 53 years old
Job: Assistant in the parish of Fuheis
City: Fuheis, Jordan
Denomination: Latin Catholic
"We need to update the Church"
How would you describe your relationship with the Church?
I live the Gospel every day, especially since I joined the Focolare Movement. It is like a big family, born in the Catholic Church, but open to all religions in the name of unity, fraternity and peace. Thanks to this movement, it is no longer just a matter of reading the texts, but of putting the teachings into practice. I have found great personal joy in this.
According to you, what are the major problems faced by the Church today?
There are many, but that is normal. All families have some. But I see these problems more as challenges, which stimulate us and make us question ourselves. The Pope himself says that every crisis is an opportunity to grow. For example, we need to understand young people better, or the needs of families. In Jordan, I think we should update the Church's software. Sometimes the Church is too disconnected from people's lives. I see many priests trying to be close to the people. But the interests of many others are elsewhere. The Church should also focus on new families. I see many young couples separating after a few years. They should be better prepared and trained. Others move away from the Church because they don't find what they want. The discourse, the words of the Church should be rethought, according to what young people need and want. The Church in Jordan is in the midst of a transformation: it is moving from tradition to modernity. This movement takes time, generates frustrations between people who think it is going too fast and those who think it is going too slow. We are on the way. The Church's time is different.
As a Jordanian, do you feel represented by the Latin Patriarch, who lives in Jerusalem?
No. I say that thinking about the Catholic Church in Rome, but the Church in Jerusalem is also far away from our issues. It's hard for Jordanians to get visas to travel to Israel/Palestine and visit the holy sites. My sister has applied twice, and both times they were denied. We feel like we belong in the Holy Land. If the political situation allowed it, all Jordanian Christians would go on pilgrimage across the Jordan River. I am 100% Jordanian, I have no Palestinian ancestors, like most people here. My approach is different. People who have Palestinian family are more emotionally connected. Their history is there. Regarding the patriarch, we appreciate that he comes here. But what does he really do for us? Why doesn't he stay and talk with the priests, with the people here? We don't have the feeling of a great proximity. Jordan is a country in its own right, and the Christians have to face a government. The people here found themselves in the person of Bishop Fouad Twal, the previous Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, because he was Jordanian. Perhaps it is also up to us to accept Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, even if he is Italian.
What is it like to be a Christian in Jordan?
We have a lot of freedom to live our Christianity. For example, we were able to organize a Way of the Cross in the neighborhood around the Latin Church at Easter time, without any problems. There is a real tolerance, and it is encouraged by the government and the royal family.
What do you dream of for the Church?
My dream is that we reach out and involve all the young people. They are the present, the future, and a source of richness for our Church.
Interview by Cécile Lemoine