- Benedict XVI - Christians - Jews - Jordan - King Abdullah II of Jordan - Vatican
AFP - Pope Benedict XVI called on Saturday for reconciliation between Christians and Jews during a visit in Jordan to Mount Nebo, where Biblical tradition says God showed Moses the Promised Land.
"May our encounter today inspire in us a renewed love for the canon of sacred scripture and a desire to overcome all obstacles to the reconciliation of Christians and Jews in mutual respect and cooperation," the pontiff said on the slopes of the windswept mountain.
"The ancient tradition of pilgrimage to the holy places also reminds us of the inseparable bond between the Church and the Jewish people," he added on the second day of an eight-day Holy Land tour that will also take him to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"Assalamo Lakum (peace to you)," he told 50 priests in Arabic at the site, where early Christians built a small church and the remains of a basilica and a monastery have been discovered.
The pope, who stressed on his arrival in Jordan on Friday that he had come "as a pilgrim," then went to a corner of the ancient church and stood in deep reflection looking towards the hills of Jerusalem.
The 840-metre (2,800-feet) peak of Mount Nebo, some 40 kilometres (24 miles) southwest of the capital Amman, is holy to all three religions due to the tradition of Moses.
Since Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994, Hebrew-speaking travellers from Israel frequently visit the sanctuary alongside women clad in Muslim headscarves and Christians wearing crosses.
"I am so happy to be here today to welcome the pope, who is our guest," Rima Sueilem, a 24-year-old Muslim woman, told AFP near Mount Nebo.
"There are no differences between Muslims and Christians in Jordan. We share everything with each other."
After descending from the mountain, Benedict was driven in his popemobile past churches in the town of Madaba, including an Orthodox church famous for its sixth century mosaic map of biblical Palestine.
Hundreds of people waving Jordanian and Vatican flags had gathered in the town since early morning to greet the 82-year-old German pontiff.
He later gave blessings at a Latin Church university in the town.
"I commend the promoters of this new institution for their courageous confidence in good education as a stepping-stone for personal development and for peace and progress in the region," the pope told a crowd of religious leaders, students, officials and dignitaries.
"The result of this process will be a university that is not only a platform for consolidating adherence to truth and to the values of a given culture, but a place of understanding and dialogue."