Pope Francis urges Syria peace at start of Mideast pilgrimage
Published on May 24, 2014 9:06 PM
AMMAN (AFP) - Pope Francis made an urgent plea on Saturday for peace in war-torn Syria as he kicked off a three-day pilgrimage to the Middle East.
And he called for religious freedom to be upheld throughout a region ravaged by war and bloodshed, where a dwindling Christian population faces daily persecution.
As he walked off the plane onto a red carpet at Amman airport, his white robes flapping in the hot desert wind, he was greeted by officials and two children dressed in traditional costume who handed him bouquets of irises, the national flower of Jordan.
At a stadium in the city, where Francis will celebrate an afternoon mass, thousands of people were packing into blue and red chairs in front of a large altar, behind which hung posters of John Paul II and John XXIII, who were made saints this month.
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