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Pope ends pilgrimage with mass at contested site

Published on May 27, 2014 6:12 AM

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Pope Francis celebrated mass at a contested Jerusalem site on Monday at the end of a whirlwind pilgrimage which he marked by making a personal bid for Middle East peace.

The 77-year-old pontiff, who has made interfaith dialogue a cornerstone of his papacy, made an impassioned call for an end to religious intolerance, saying believers must have free access to sites they consider sacred within the Holy City.

Despite stating that the trip would be “purely religious” he waded into sensitive regional politics, issuing a unique invitation to the Israeli and Palestinian presidents to pray with him at the Vatican to end their “increasingly unacceptable” conflict.

A visibly tired Francis celebrated the last public mass of his visit at the Upper Room on Mount Zion, in which Jesus is believed to have held the Last Supper, where Christians have access but very limited freedom of worship.

Clergymen attend a mass celebrated by Pope Francis (rear centre) at the Cenacle, where Christian tradition says Jesus attended The Last Supper, on Mount Zion just outside Jerusalem's Old City on May 26, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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