Pope praises Jordan as tour begins

first_img 77 Views   no discussions Share Tweet Sharing is caring! FaithLifestyle Pope praises Jordan as tour begins by: – May 24, 2014center_img Share Share The Pope greets reporters on his plane to the Middle East, including the BBC’s Jeremy BowenPope Francis has praised Jordan for its “generous welcome” to Syrian refugees at the start of a three-day visit to the Middle East.The Pope was welcomed by King Abdullah II and in a speech at the royal palace, he stressed the need for an “urgent” solution to the Syrian conflict.He went on to celebrate Mass at a stadium in the capital Amman and will later meet Syrian refugees.The tour’s official purpose is to improve ties with the Orthodox Church.However, correspondents say many will expect Pope Francis to use his influence to try to ease tensions in the Middle East.In his speech, he also called for more respect for religious freedom, calling it “a fundamental human right”.“I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world,” he said. Christian minorities have been subject to increasing attacks in some parts of the Middle East in recent years.He thanked Jordan for its “efforts to seek lasting peace for the entire region” and said this would also require a “just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.On Sunday he is to begin two days in the West Bank and Israel.He told journalists that the trip would be “challenging” but rewarding, AP reports.Restraining ordersThe Pope will be accompanied by a rabbi and an imam – friends from his native Argentina – and hopes to improve relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land.His journey comes only a few weeks after the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed.Israel has issued restraining orders against several Jewish right-wing activists this week over concerns that they could try to disrupt the visit.Police said offensive “anti-Christian graffiti” was discovered on the wall of a church in the southern city of Beersheba on Friday.A general view of Manger Square as workers prepare for the visit of Pope Francis to the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 23 May 2014Preparations were well under way at Manger Square in Bethlehem ahead of the Pope’s visitThe Pope’s journey marks the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Athenagoras.The meeting ended 900 years of separation and enduring antagonism between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity.On Sunday, Pope Francis will travel to Bethlehem in the West Bank and preside over Mass in Manger Square, near the site where Jesus is believed to have been born.He will also meet the current Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomew, and they will sign a declaration of friendship.His schedule on Monday is set to include a visit to the al-Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem’s Old City followed by the Dome of the Rock and the Western Wall.Pope Francis will be the fourth leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Jerusalem, after Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who went there in 2009.BBC Newslast_img

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