Pope Francis in Europe: Jersey visit to Israel and Turkey

Written by Staff Writer

Cuba, Jerusalem, Northern Ireland and Portugal are just some of the continents which the Pope Francis, who has been in Europe for two days, has visited.

Ahead of his Rome visit, the Pontiff was reportedly in Cyprus, the occupied island, on Wednesday.

During the visit, which lasted about seven hours, he urged the island’s two communities to forget their historical bitterness and build a prosperous future for themselves, according to an Italian news report .

Many of the places the Pope visited were cities held by both Greek and Turkish forces during World War II, according to the International Institute for Security Studies.

At the Cyprus refugee camp, Tinos, the Pope urged Cypriots to restore peace, according to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

It was an emotional day for him as he spoke about the efforts by Christians to convert Orthodox Christians during the centuries of civil war in his homeland, Croatia, according to the Catholic Telegraph.

The day began with a meeting in Jordan with representatives of the different nationalities in the Old City of Jerusalem.

During the meetings, the Pope, who also helped launch a new fund dedicated to Christian communities in the Palestinian territories, prayed before the golden Dome of the Rock and its smaller cousin, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, CNN reported.

The Pontiff also paid a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where he laid a wreath on the tomb of Jesus Christ, the Palestinian Daily Al-Quds said.

A video taken during the visit showed Francis kneeling at the start of the visit before kneeling again several minutes later in front of the tomb of Jesus Christ, raising his hand in prayer.

Later, in front of the border gate between Lebanon and Syria, the Pope hugged Syrian refugees who were waiting for him to greet them.

Pope Francis greets an unidentified Syrian refugee girl at the international border crossing between Lebanon and Syria, on July 25, 2017. Richard B Dimaros

The pontiff also visited Bethlehem, where he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Church of the Nativity — built over Jesus’ birthplace — and released white doves into the air in support of peace.

Later he visited the Displacement Memorial — where people can tell their stories of migration — in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, before flying to Rome on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, in northern Israel, the Pope took part in a national day of repentance for the country’s involvement in three wars in the past four decades.

In Germany, the Pope visited a prison to commemorate an incident in 1999 when three German-born nuns from the Sisters of Charity were kidnapped by armed men.

The nuns were held in a Libyan jail for nearly 10 months before they were rescued by British special forces.

The Pope’s trip to the island of Cyprus lasted less than an hour but the visit between the Pope and a group of Orthodox Christian priests caused a stir.

The Papal trip to Palestine, and subsequent visit to Beirut, Jordan and Palestine was part of an effort to highlight the plight of Christians in the region, as well as to highlight the peace process.

In Jordan, he met refugees and delivered an appeal for peace.

He said that Christians in the Middle East are living in a “frightening and tragic situation,” prompting condemnation from Israeli authorities.

“Hate and violence, which are based on religious and ethnic prejudice, are more shameless in the 21st century than ever,” the state-run news agency quoted the Pope as saying at a news conference.

Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Ilan Mizrahi, claimed in a statement that the Pope was promoting a “Christian fundamentalist” ideology and “his political outlook” in the Middle East.

“The Israeli side views with dismay the tone and nature of these events and will determine the next steps accordingly,” he said.

A senior Israeli official said the visit could damage the atmosphere for peace negotiations.

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