I remember when Pope John Paul II visited Syria in 2001. The Pope held a mass in Al-Abbasiyeen Stadium in Damascus and visited the Umayyad Mosque, becoming the first Catholic pontiff to enter a Muslim place of worship. In an address at the Mosque, in the presence of late Grand Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro, the Pope said:
"For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness [...] May the hearts of Christians and Muslims turn to one another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give. To the One, Merciful God be praise and glory for ever. Amen."Later during his landmark visit, the Pope went to Quneitra, a town in the Golan Heights liberated from Israeli occupation in 1974. Standing in a small church that was burnt and ransacked by the Israelis, the Pope prayed for peace and justice in the Middle East:
"From this place, so disfigured by war, I wish to raise my heart and voice in prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the world [...] Lord, you speak words of peace to your people and to all who turn to you in their hearts. We pray to you for the peoples of the Middle East. Help them to break down the walls of hostility and division and to build together a world of justice and solidarity [...] May they be inspired to oneness of heart and mind, in working for a world that will be a true home for all its peoples. Salam! Salam! Salam!"Today the church is still deserted as it has been for 38 years, still waiting for the Pope's prayer to be answered... May his soul rest in peace.