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 CNS Story:

JORDAN-KNIGHTS May-9-2009 (380 words) xxxi

British knights hope papal trip will contribute to peace in Holy Land

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- In the crowds that welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Jordan and followed him to Catholic schools and churches were several dozen people who have taken an oath to pray for and financially support the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

Four dozen members of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem were finishing a visit to the Holy Land when Pope Benedict arrived May 8.

In addition to funding schools, parishes, seminaries, hospitals and other projects of the church in the region, members of the order also helped the Vatican and the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem cover the costs of the papal visit.

Michael Whelan, the order's lieutenant for England and Wales, said, "The work of the order is to help the Christians in the Holy Land.

"It would help most if, out of the pope's visit, there came a new effort for a just and peaceful solution of the Palestinian situation so that Christians and Muslims could have the peace and freedom they need to live and to continue the peaceful coexistence that marked their relations for centuries," Whelan said.

"Christians, Muslims and Jews need to recognize each other's faith, each other's differences, but also their common links to the Holy Land," he said.

"At heart, they are all people with families, with cares, with aspirations and hopes for peace," he said.

Bernard Waddingham, treasurer of the British lieutenancy, said the order has made a special commitment to supporting the schools run by the Latin patriarchate in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The knights of England and Wales send pilgrimages to the Holy Land every six months, visiting the schools and other projects and personally handing over checks.

"We go around giving money -- I have a holy checkbook," Waddingham said.

Members of the group were among the people inside the Church of the Good Shepherd at the Regina Pacis center May 8 and planned to be at the May 10 Mass.

Margaret Waddingham, the treasurer's wife, said she was grateful to be at Good Shepherd with some of the Jordanians they have gotten to know through their work with the order.

"It was extraordinary seeing the faith and hope, especially of the young people, and their joy makes me want to help everyone," she said.

END


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