"It seems that it's becoming more and more normal for a pope, with a friendly attitude, to enter a Muslim place of prayer," he said. "This is a sign of the advance in the positive relationship between Christians and Muslims in these years."and, secondly, a display of support and solidarity with Jordan's Christian community -- which, according to Zenit, "makes up only about 3% of Jordan's more than 6 million people. And only about half the Christians are Catholics":
Reflecting on the 2006 turmoil over Benedict XVI's speech in Regensburg, Father Lombardi said he believes the crisis in Christian-Muslim relations that sprung from that misunderstanding has been resolved for some time now.
"In the Regina Pacis Center for disabled youth, he has inaugurated a new section; in Madaba, he blessed the cornerstone of a university -- an initiative of huge importance not only for Jordan but for the whole Middle East, where the development of the contribution that the Church gives to culture will be highly significant.(Read the rest of Zenit's interview with Father Federico Lombardi).
"Then the placement of the cornerstones of two churches -- a Latin one and a Greek-Melkite one -- in the zone of the baptism of Christ shows growth in the places where the Church is.
"Certainly the fact that the Pope's visit has been linked to these beautiful circumstances says that it is a Church that feels alive and looks to the future."
- Analysis: Pope's visit puts focus on Mideast Christians, by John Allen, Jr. (CNN)
- In Jordan, pope boosts Christian minority, builds bridges to Muslims, by John Thavis. (Catholic News Service)
- Pope keeps Iraqis in thoughts, prayers during Jordan visit, by John Thavis (Catholic News Service)
- Pope Benedict's Latest Take on Islam, by Jeff Israely. (Time)