Jerusalem: Urging Jews, Christians and Muslims to “respect and love one another as brothers and sisters”, Pope Francis today made an impassioned appeal here “not to abuse the name of God for violence”.
The Pope started the third day of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the Al-Aqsa mosque complex on Temple Mount, where he met with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and urged Muslims, Christians and Jews to “work together for justice and peace.”
Deviating from a prepared text, the Pope called the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and other assembled Muslim authorities as “dear brothers”, instead of “dear friends”.
“May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters,” he said, adding that “Let us learn how to understand the pain of others and no one will use violence in the name of God”.
He then entered the Dome of the Rock – the third holiest site in Islam, taking off his shoes to step into the
gold-topped dome, which enshrines the rock where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.
Francis then headed to the holiest site for the Jews, the Western Wall, where he met Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch and read a chapter from the Book of Songs. He also prayed at the Wall for almost a minute and a half.
He is scheduled to lay a wreath at Mount Herzl in memory of Israeli leaders and soldiers buried there, making him the first Pope to extend such a gesture.
The Pope will also meet Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will accompany him to his visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum which commemorates some 6 million Jews who were killed by the Nazis during World War II.