Pope Francis on Monday urged his “brother” Muslims to never abuse God’s name through violence as he opened the third and final day of his Mid-east pilgrimage with a visit to the Dome of the Rock, the iconic shrine located at the third-holiest spot in Islam.
Pope Francis took off his shoes to step into the gold-topped dome, which enshrines the rock where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven.
The mosque complex, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, is at the heart of the territorial and religious disputes between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Speaking to the grand mufti of Jerusalem and other Muslim authorities, Pope Francis deviated from his prepared remarks to refer not just to his “dear friends” but “dear brothers.”
“May we respect and love one another as brothers and sisters,” he said, and added, “May we learn to understand the suffering of others! May no one abuse the name of God through violence!”
After the brief visit, Pope Francis headed to the Western Wall, the only remains of the biblical Second Temple and the holiest place where Jews can pray.