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A religion-packed end to Pope Francis' tour of the Middle East


Israel

A religion-packed end to Pope Francis' tour of the Middle East

Pope Francis used the final day of his tour of the Middle East to visit some of the most important holy sites for Muslims and Jews.

His day started with a visit to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Ahmed Hussein at the al-Aqsa mosque compound; considered the third holiest site in Islam.

There, he urged Christians, Jews and Muslims to work together for peace and to condemn intolerance.

Speaking in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other dignitaries at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, he talked of the “boundless tragedy of the Shoah”.

The memorial commemorates some six million Jews who perished during World War Two.

Religion played a large part in the timetable. Francis became the first pontiff to lay a wreath at the tomb of Theodor Herzl, seen as the founder of the modern Zionism that led to Israel’s foundation.

Later in the day, he left a written prayer in a crack in the Western Wall, an important religious site for Jews.

At the controversial Israeli security barrier separating Bethlehem in the West Bank from Jerusalem, the pontiff prayed at the Wall for several minutes.

Euronews correspondent Luis Carballo reported from Jerusalem:
“In his trip to the Holy Land Pope Francis prayed at two walls: the separation wall in Bethlehem and the Western Wall here in Jerusalem,” he said. “In two weeks Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will make a similar gesture, by praying together in Rome.”

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