Pope ends pilgrimage

2014-05-26 22:00
Pope Francis at the Church of All Nations in  Jerusalem.(Jack Guez, Pool)

Pope Francis at the Church of All Nations in Jerusalem.(Jack Guez, Pool)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Pope Francis
    Read up on Pope Francis in the biography that paints a peceptive portrait of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Now R227.00
    buy now

Jerusalem - Pope Francis celebrated mass at a contested Jerusalem site on Monday at the end of a whirlwind pilgrimage which he marked by making a personal bid for Middle East peace.

The 77-year-old pontiff, who has made interfaith dialogue a cornerstone of his papacy, made an impassioned call for an end to religious intolerance, saying believers must have free access to sites they consider sacred within the Holy City.

Despite stating that the trip would be "purely religious" he waded into sensitive regional politics, issuing a unique invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray with him at the Vatican to end their "increasingly unacceptable" conflict.

A visibly tired Francis celebrated the last public mass of his visit at the Upper Room on Mount Zion, in which Jesus is believed to have held the Last Supper, where Christians have access but very limited freedom of worship.

Vatican efforts to negotiate greater rights at the Upper Room have sparked opposition from nationalist and Orthodox Jews, who revere part of the building as the tomb of King David, prompting a series of angry protests and several anti-Christian attacks.

Police were called to the Church of the Dormition, about 30m from the Upper Room in the Mount Zion compound, to probe an arson attack carried out shortly after the pope celebrated his mass.

"Someone entered the church and went down to the crypt, took a book that is used by pilgrims to a small room next to the organ, and set some wood crosses on fire," the Benedictine Abbot of the church, Nikodemus Schnabel, told AFP.

"The police are here and say it was not an accident."

Some of the German Benedictine monks from the church were coated in black soot after putting out the fire and there was a strong smell of smoke, said an AFP photographer. A small pile of fire-damaged crosses lay in a smouldering heap and furniture had been damaged.

The pope was seen off in a brief airport ceremony in Tel Aviv by President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier, he drove home a strong message about religious intolerance. He called for "free access to holy sites" in Jerusalem and for a "firm rejection" of intolerance towards "places of worship", in an apparent allusion to extremist hate crimes targeting mosques and churches.

Heckled 

Touring the holiest sites in Jerusalem's walled Old City early on  Monday, he issued a call for the three religions to "work together for justice and peace" as he was shown around the Al-Aqsa compound, the third holiest site in Islam which Jews also consider sacred.

Entering the exquisite blue-tiled Dome of the Rock with its landmark golden cupola, used as a place of worship for women only, the pope first removed his shoes before walking to visit the smaller, silver-domed Al-Aqsa mosque.

At the Western Wall, the holiest site at which Jews can pray, he left a note in between the ancient stones before sharing an emotional embrace with two close friends travelling with him, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Islamic studies professor Omar Abboud.

Watching from a distance were a handful of ultra-Orthodox youngsters who shouted : "Tragedy, horrible!" in Yiddish.

Purely religious? 

Francis had promised the three-day pilgrimage, which began on Saturday in Jordan, would steer clear of political issues.

But at the end of an open-air mass in Bethlehem, where he began the Israel-Palestinian leg of his trip, he invited Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres to join him at the Vatican for a "heartfelt prayer" for peace.

Peres told the pope he was happy to accept, while a senior Palestinian official said Abbas would visit the Vatican for the prayer on 6 June.

In a further divergence from prepared texts, the pope spoke out against anti-Semitism and religious intolerance and made unscheduled stops which were seized upon as political capital by Israel and the Palestinians.

In Bethlehem he surprised his entourage by hopping out of his white open jeep to touch and briefly pray at Israel's towering concrete separation barrier which cuts through the West Bank city in what the Palestinians hailed as an "eloquent and clear message".

Israel says the barrier, which it began building in 2002, is crucial for security. Palestinians see it as a land grab aimed at stealing territory they want for a future state.

On Monday, he made a surprise stop at an Israeli memorial for victims of militant attacks, reportedly at Netanyahu's request.

No political agenda 

Netanyahu thanked the pope for visiting the memorial, telling him it was directly connected to the barrier.

"If the incitement against the state of Israel stops, if terror stops, there won't be a need for the measures that we've taken, like the security fence which has saved thousands of lives," he said.

"After it was set up, the terror stopped."

In Jordan, Francis appealed for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, before flying to Bethlehem, in what was seen as a nod towards Palestinian statehood aspirations.

The Vatican denied the pope was pursuing any political agenda, with spokesperson Federico Lombardi saying the unscheduled stops were "gestures.. [which] rounded out his official programme."

Israel said his visit to the attack victims memorial had balanced out the picture.

"Those who think that he lent towards the Palestinian perspective are wrong," foreign ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor told AFP.

"In going to the attack victims' memorial at Mt Herzl, the pope was able to understand why this barrier was erected."

On Monday, the pope also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he denounced the "unfathomable abyss" of the Nazi genocide which claimed the lives of six million Jews.

Read more on:    pope francis  |  israel  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Dewani Trial
 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.