Pope calls for free access to Jerusalem holy sites
26 May 2014, 17:48
Jerusalem - Pope Francis said on Monday that pilgrims must enjoy free access to holy sites in Jerusalem, after touring the main places holy to the three Abrahamic faiths.
But he also called for a "firm rejection" of intolerance demonstrated towards places of worship, in reference to a series of vandalism attacks by Jewish extremists on Muslim and Christian holy places.
"How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the holy places and can freely take part in religious celebrations," he said during a visit to the home of Israeli President Shimon Peres.
"There is .. need for a firm rejection of.. signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim," he said.
Israel has been struggling to contain a wave of so-called "price tag" hate crimes by Jewish extremists targeting Palestinian and Arab property, which has included an increasing number of vandalism attacks on mosques and churches.
Although police have made scores of arrests, there have been no successful prosecutions, prompting widespread expressions of concern from Christian leaders.