There he celebrated the largest Mass of his trip. Over 40,000 turned out for the celebration, including Israeli President Shimon Peres. In recent years, there have been a number of tensions between Christians and Muslims over a proposed plan to build a mosque next to the grotto of the Annunciation. The building project was eventually abandoned.
I urge people of good will in both communities to repair the damage that has been done, and in fidelity to our common belief in one God, the Father of the human family, to work to build bridges and find the way to a peaceful coexistence.
During the ceremony, Benedict XVI marked the conclusion of the Year of the Family, promoted by the local Catholic community. The Pope said that the family is essential for building peace in society.
In the family each person, whether the smallest child or the oldest relative, is valued for himself or herself, and not seen simply as a means to some other end. Here we begin to glimpse something of the essential role of the family as the first building-block of a well-ordered and welcoming society.
At the end of the celebration, the Pope blessed the cornerstone of a complex which will include an international center devoted to family studies, a park dedicated to John Paul II and a university called Benedict XVI.