Pope to visit Amman mosque during Mideast tour

Benedict also schedule to meet with Muslim leaders, religious scholars during May visit.

Pope hands out 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Pope hands out 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Pope Benedict XVI will visit an Amman mosque during a Mideast tour May 8-15, a Catholic Church leader in Jordan said Tuesday. The pope will arrive in Jordan on the first stop of a regional tour which will also take him to Israel and the West Bank. Pope Benedict will visit the Hussein Bin Talal Mosque, his second visit to a place of Muslim worship since he prayed at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul in 2006, said Father Rifat Bader, a spokesman for the Jordan portion of the visit. "He will also meet there with Muslim leaders and religious scholars at the mosque, underlining the coexistence between religions," Bader told The Associated Press. The mosque, Amman's largest, was built in the suburbs nearly four years ago and is named after the late king who died of cancer in 1999. During his three-day stay, the pope will also visit biblical sites across Jordan, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, who came to the region in a 2000 pilgrimage, also to visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Sites on Pope Benedict's Jordan itinerary include Mount Nebo, where tradition says Moses saw the Promised Land and a spot on the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized. The pope will also hold a public mass, which is expected to be attended by thousands of followers. Christians make up 3 percent of Jordan's 5.8 million population. On May 11, the pope will start a five-day tour of Israel and the West Bank, said Bader, quoting a tentative schedule from the Vatican. He said the pope's first stop will be Tel Aviv, where he is expected to meet Israeli dignitaries, including President Shimon Peres. He will move on to Jerusalem, where he will visit the recently renovated Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. During his stay, he will also meet with Israeli rabbis, Palestinian muftis and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. There will also be public masses.