King and Queen of Jordan honored with 2022 Path to Peace Award

King Abdullah and Queen Rania, Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were honored with the 2022 Path to Peace Award for their role in promoting interfaith harmony and dialogue, Jordan’s humanitarian efforts to host refugees, as well as their efforts in bolstering prospects for peace at the Path to Peace Foundation’s 29th annual Gala which took place on Monday in Manhattan, New York.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

On the occasion of its 29th Annual Gala on 9 May, the Path to Peace Foundation presented the 2022 Path to Peace Award to Their Majesties, King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The prestigious annual award, presented to the royals this year, aims to recognize individuals for their commitment to the development of peace in both nation and international arenas.

Present at the occasion was Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, and President of the Path to Peace Foundation, who welcomed the 370 guests at the Gala.

Promoters of interfaith harmony and dialogue

During the ceremony, Archbishop Caccia highlighted the awardees’ work “in service of peace and interfaith harmony in the Middle East and the wider world”, and noted that the proposal to award the King and Queen of Jordan was first made in 2015.

The archbishop said that the roots of the Path to Peace Foundation are in the risen Christ’s greetings to his apostles: “Peace be with you!” – a expression of a wish of peace which is common in cultures in the Middle East.

Archbishop Caccia pointed at King Abdullah’s commitment to religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue, notably in his efforts to safeguard both Islamic and Christian holy sites under the Hashemite Custodianship, his initiation of the 2004 “Amman Message” which affirms that terrorism has no place in Islam; and his 2010 proposal for an annual “World Interfaith Harmony Week” which was adopted by the UN General Assembly.

He also praised Queen Rania’s concern for education, connectivity and cross-cultural dialogue, as well as sustainability, the environment and dialogue which, the archbishop notes, “places young people at the heart of solutions and is imbued with a sense of hope.

The archbishop went to applaud the Kingdom of Jordan’s willingness to accept refugees fleeing situations of conflict and re-echoed Pope Francis’ expression of gratitude during his 2014 visit to the Kingdom of Jordan when the Holy Father recognized Jordan’s historical openness to welcoming refugees from Palestine, Iraq and Syria.

Need for joint efforts towards lasting peace

In remarks at the ceremony to receive the award, the Jordanian monarch expressed gratitude to the Path of Peace Foundation and accepted the award on behalf “of Jordanians, men and women, young people and elders, Muslims and Christians alike.”

King Abdullah noted that “Our journey on the path to peace must travel through Jerusalem,” noting that the Holy City is home to many Arab Christians who are part of the oldest Christian community in the world, and it is vital for all to protect their presence in the Holy City.

“Jerusalem is key to the future of peace and stability that we all seek,” and “should be an anchor for peace and coexistence, not for fear and violence,” he said.

The King urged the international community to work towards a just and lasting peace, through a two-state solution “leading to the establishment of an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side-by- side with Israel in peace and security.”

He also underscored the value of mutual respect, cooperation and shared humanity in shaping a better world, stressing that our most difficult challenges will not be solved by material goods but by “drawing on our faith in God, our common humanity, and our will to jointly defeat poverty and despair, end occupation and injustice, help refugees everywhere to return home, readiness to rebuild shattered communities, and renew the hope that young people everywhere so desperately need.”

Path to Peace Foundation annual Gala

The funds raised through the Path to Peace Gala are directed towards enabling the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to maintain a dynamic presence at the UN and to bring greater awareness of the teachings of the Holy Father on important international questions.

The Path to Peace Foundation also focuses on disseminating information on statements and initiatives of the Holy Father, the Holy See and Catholic organizations which are aimed at building a more just and peaceful world.

The 29th annual Gala on Monday was co-chaired by Her Excellency Vicki Downey and Angelo Vivolo. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark gave the opening invocation while three other members of the Holy See mission delivered remarks at the occasion. The Closing Benediction was given by Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond.