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Pope Francis visits holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City

Pope Francis visits holy sites in Jerusalem's Old City

PanARMENIAN.Net - Pope Francis has visited the most important holy sites for Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem's Old City on the final day of his Middle East tour, according to BBC News.

At the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the Pope urged people of all religions to "work together for justice and peace". He then prayed at the Western Wall, which lies just beneath it, bowing his head as he touched the stones.

The pontiff has been feted by Israel and the Palestinians, and has invited their presidents to the Vatican. Both Israel's Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have given a positive response.

After visiting the Jerusalem site - one of the most contentious spots in the Israel-Palestinian conflict - the Pope travelled to Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial. There he met survivors and spoke of the "boundless tragedy of the Holocaust", describing it as an "unfathomable abyss".

Speaking to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Ahmed Hussein, the Pope deviated from his prepared remarks to call on Christians, Jews and Muslims to work together for peace and to condemn intolerance.

"May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters," he said. "May we learn to understand the suffering of others. May no one abuse the name of God through violence."

The Pope also went to Mount Herzl cemetery, where he became the first pontiff to lay a wreath at the tomb of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, who died in 1904 before his dream of a Jewish homeland was realized.

Afterwards, the Pope made an unscheduled stop at a memorial for Israeli civilians killed in attacks by Palestinian militants. The move was at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office said.

The Pope is scheduled to meet Israel's two chief rabbis before attending private audiences with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Netanyahu.

At the end of the day, he will celebrate Mass at the site known as the Cenacle, where Jesus is reputed to have taken part in the Last Supper with his Apostles on the eve of his crucifixion.

The Cenacle is located in a historic building on Mount Zion that is also sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The reputed burial place of King David is on the ground floor of the Cenacle, while a mosque is situated on the roof.

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