Pope John Paul II has become the first Roman Catholic Pontiff in history to visit a Muslim mosque. Accompanied by Syria's leading Muslim clerics, the 81-year-old pope entered Sunday the landmark Great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, which contains the supposed tomb of St. John the Baptist.
In the mosque, the pope exchanged statements with the Syrian mufti, Mahmoud Kafaro.
Reading with shaking hands an address from a sheet of paper, with translation in Arabic, the Pope called for peace and urged both Muslims and Christians to work for solutions to the problems facing humanity.
Religious authorities hope the groundbreaking visit will take Muslim-Christian relations to a new level.
The pope, who revolutionized relations with Jews by visiting Rome's synagogue in 1985, is on a pilgrimage to Syria to trace the steps of St. Paul the Apostle, a Jew who converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus.
His tour has already taken him to Greece, and he will head for Malta after his four-day visit to Syria, which started Saturday – Albawaba.com
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