Pope Celebrates Mass in Jesus' Hometown

40,000 join Benedict in Nazareth, Israel's largest Arab city
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2009 5:48 AM CDT
A Vatican flag is waved during Mass on Mount Precipice in the northern Israeli town of Nazareth, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, Thursday, May 14, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass today with 40,000 adoring followers in Jesus' hometown of Nazareth, the AP reports, where he urged Christian and Muslim residents to overcome recent strife and "reject the destructive power of hatred and prejudice." On the fourth day of his Holy Land pilgrimage, the pontiff traveled to Israel's largest Arab city, where the government tore down an unauthorized mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation.

The pope's trip has been freighted with the region's most sensitive issues, from the legacy of the Holocaust to interfaith relations. Today's mass was celebrated on Mount Precipice, where Christian tradition says a mob tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. Later he will meet with PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who resists the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which Benedict called for yesterday in Bethlehem.