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Pope prays at Western Wall, leaves note

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Posted: May 26, 2014 12:42 AM

Updated: May 26, 2014 12:42 AM

JERUSALEM (AP) Pope Francis has prayed at Jerusalem's Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, bowing his head as he touched the wall in the same gesture used a day earlier to pray at the Israeli barrier surrounding the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Francis spent a few minutes on Monday before the only remains of the biblical Second Temple and left a note inside an envelope in one of the cracks between the stones.

When St. John Paul II visited in 2000, he left a note asking forgiveness for the suffering inflicted on Jews by Christians over history. Pope Benedict XVI's note prayed for peace for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. The Vatican hasn't said if the contents of Francis' prayer would be released.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

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 Mideast pilgrimage with a visit to the Dome of the Rock, the iconic shrine located at the third-holiest spot in Islam.

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 neighbors.

Speaking to the grand mufti of Jerusalem and other Muslim authorities, 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, Francis headed to the Western Wall, the only remains of the biblical Second Temple and the holiest place where Jews can pray.

Topics: Pope-Mideast

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