- Title: JERUSALEM: Pope Benedict visits religious shrines in Jerusalem's Old City
- Date: 13th May 2009
- Summary: JERUSALEM (MAY 12, 2009) (REUTERS) VIEW OF OLD CITY INCLUDING THE AL AQSA MOSQUE AND DOME OF THE ROCK AS SEEN FROM MOUNT OF OLIVES
- Embargoed: 28th May 2009 13:00
- Topics: International Relations,Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA9D8F7PGPNPRSP8J7TK5LCJMMH
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Pope Benedict visits Jerusalem's shrines as he continues to promote dialogue among religions on a Middle East tour already marked by controversy.
Pope Benedict XVI visited holy sites in Jerusalem at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday (May 12), continuing his pilgrimage in the Holy Land.
On the second day of his Jerusalem visit, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church visited powerful symbols of Judaism and Islam in a city that both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital.
The Dome of the Rock mosque stands at the spot where all three great monotheistic religions believe Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son to God, before an angel stayed his hand. King Solomon and his successors built Jewish temples there before the Romans razed the Second Temple in 70 AD and the Jews scattered into exile.
In the 7th century, Islamic conquerors built the first Dome on the spot, where Muslims also believe Mohammed ascended to heaven. The area around, including the al-Aqsa mosque and known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), has been a focus of tensions since Israeli forces captured Jerusalem's Old City in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.
The German-born Pope stood in prayer for several minutes at the Western Wall, a remnant of the Roman-era Temple complex that is Judaism's holiest place, after meeting the Grand Mufti, Muslim Palestinians' senior cleric, at the Dome of the Rock which dominates the Old City.
Following that visit, Pope Benedict met with two of Israel's senior rabbis.
Though some Israelis said they were disappointed at the remarks made by the Pope at Israel's Holocaust memorial on Monday, Benedict reiterated his desire for positive relations between Catholics and Jews.
"I assure you of my desire to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation between the Holy See, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Jewish people throughout the world," Pope Benedict said.
"Trust is undeniably an essential element of effective dialogue.
Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at the Second Vatican Council for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews," the Pope added.
After meeting Israel's chief rabbis, Benedict prayed at the site of Jesus's Last Supper before his crucifixion and resurrection, the focus of Jerusalem's importance for Christians.
The pontiff is to say mass for thousands of worshippers at the Garden of Gethsemane later in the day.
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