Meeting with new Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq and Jordan
HOLY LAND – Pope Francis named Archbishop Alberto Ortega Martin as Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan and Iraq on August 1st. This Spanish native, born in Madrid in 1962, was ordained priest on April 28, 1990. He had worked with Nunciature in Nicaragua, South Africa and Lebanon. For several years, he worked for the Secretariat of State on issues concerning the Middle East. Present in Jerusalem for the Plenary of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, we conducted an interview with him.
In what mental state did you start your new mission?
I started the mission with tremendous gratitude towards the Holy Father for this appointment and for his confidence in me. I feel I am so small for this mission, but I place my full trust in the Lord. Every vocation is a sign of God’s mercy, it is not the result of abilities or qualities; it is only His mercy. God counts on us to do things; but in reality He is the one who does these things. I have full trust in the Lord and in prayer and a great desire to help Christians and all who live in Jordan and Iraq. I will learn a lot from these Christians who are perfect witnesses of the faith. Many of them left everything in the name of Christ, and I have to learn this. It takes great fellowship among us to support one another.
You are representative of the Holy See in two countries with very different realities: Iraq and Jordan. What will be the bottom-line of your mission?
The mission of the Nuncio is twofold: the first is a diplomatic mission of contact with civil authorities to encourage peace. As the situations are different, we have to adapt and there are a lot of things to do. In Jordan for example Christians are appreciated, the relationship with the political authorities is very good. There is also a special mission on refugees. However, the entire region tense, in this context all people and all initiatives aimed at changing the situation to bring peace should be encouraged.
The second mission is the support to the local church. The Church must promote communion and encourage Christians among them, particularly by promoting contact with priests and bishops. My mission is to support them and to be present on these lands to show the friendship of the Pope, his concerns and his love for Christians and local communities.
What message do you bring to these Christians who are currently living through difficult times?
The message is to tell them they are not alone. As a representative of the Pope, I must especially tell them that the Holy Father and the whole Church are with them. We must encourage churches of all countries to be present and to accompany, assist and support these Christians by all possible means. They have much to teach us, we have a duty to keep their testimony. It is very important to tell them that we are counting on them.
We should also remind civil authorities of their responsibilities; they should make it possible for Christians to return to their homeland: it is a right, not charity. They must also do their best to provide good living conditions for them, employment opportunities and housing. Like other citizens they must contribute to the good of their country.
Interview done by Calixte Des Lauriers