Pope Francis arrived in Jordan urging an end to the civil war raging in Syria and a "just solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during the first of what will be three days touring the Middle East.
In addition to interfaith dialogue, the pope is looking to emphasize Christian unity during the trip. Indeed, the central purpose of the voyage is to mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's historic meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras, the head of the Orthodox Church, which brought an end to the mutual excommunications by the two churches after they split in 1054.
That meeting ushered in a new era of ecumenism, a hallmark of Pope Francis' young papacy. On Sunday, the pope will meet Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians and the "first among equals" among the various Orthodox churches, at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, believed to be Jesus' burial site. The two men will preside over a public prayer, a first by the leaders of the two faiths.