Pope heads to Middle East with hope for Christian unity

Pope Francis will take part in an unprecedented joint prayer in Jerusalem next weekend with representatives of all the main branches of Christianity in a bid to put aside old rivalries.

Vatican City: Pope Francis will take part in an unprecedented joint prayer in Jerusalem next weekend with representatives of all the main branches of Christianity in a bid to put aside old rivalries.

The ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - venerated as the place of Jesus`s crucifixion and resurrection - is seen by the Vatican as the highpoint of the papal visit to the Middle East.

The trip starting on Saturday is filled with symbolism and efforts to reach out to other denominations and faiths by a pontiff who has made his mark with a more collegiate form of leadership.

The 77-year-old Argentine pope will also be travelling with two old friends from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim professor Omar Abboud - another important gesture of openness.

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