Pope prays in Istanbul mosque in new outreach

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Pope Francis prays at mosque
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Pope prays in Istanbul mosque in new outreach
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, left, joins Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran praying in the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, right, shows Pope Francis the Quran, the Muslim holy book, at the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, right, shows Pope Francis the Quran, the Muslim holy book, at the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, center, stands next to Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, right, at the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis and Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, right, visit the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis and Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran visit the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis, left, is welcomed by Istanbul Mufti Rahmi Yaran upon their arrival to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Pope Francis visits two of Turkey's most iconic sites and shifts gears toward more religious affairs as he arrives in Istanbul for the second leg of his three-day visit to the Muslim nation. The Vatican says Francis will tour Istanbul's Sultan Ahmet mosque on Saturday and pause for a moment of "reflection." (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
Pope Francis is about to stand up after writing his message following his visit to Haghia Sofia, the Byzantine church-turned-mosque that is now a museum, in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one Istanbul's most important religious sites, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to the mainly Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis visits Haghia Sofia, the Byzantine church-turned-mosque that is now a museum, in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one Istanbul's most important religious sites, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to the mainly Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
People cheer as Pope Francis drives by on his way to visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Pope Francis visits two of Turkey's most iconic sites and shifts gears toward more religious affairs as he arrives in Istanbul for the second leg of his three-day visit to the Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, at the Istanbul airport, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis stood Saturday for two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one of Istanbul's most important mosques, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to mainly Muslim Turkey. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis leaves after visiting Haghia Sofia, the Byzantine church-turned-mosque that is now a museum, in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. He reaffirmed that military force was justified to halt the Islamic State group's advance, and called for greater dialogue among Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths to end fundamentalism. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Pope Francis, left in white, and Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaram visit the Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one Istanbul's most important religious sites, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to the mainly Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. Pope Francis canceled his morning audiences Friday because of a cold, the first time the industrious pope is known to have slowed his busy schedule due to illness. The Vatican said the 76-year-old pontiff, who lost most of one of his lungs due to an infection in his youth, took the morning off to rest at his Vatican hotel. He kept his afternoon appointment, however, presiding over the ordination of a new bishop in St. Peter's Basilica. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, center, signs a guest book during a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and his delegation at the Patriarchal Palace in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Francis bowed before Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and asked him "to bless me and the church of Rome" at the end of an ecumenical service Saturday evening. The Orthodox leader obliged, kissing Francis' bowed head. The two major branches of Christianity represented by Bartholomew and Francis split in 1054 over differences on the primacy of the papacy, giving particular resonance to Francis' display of deference. (AP Photo/Filippo Monteforte, pool)
Pope Francis, second left, smiles to the crowd as he leaves the Holy spirit Cathedral in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Pope Francis, second left, waves to the crowd as he leaves the Holy spirit Cathedral after celebrating a Mass in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Pope Francis arrives to celebrate a Mass inside the Holy spirit Cathedral in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Meeting with Turkish leaders in the capital Ankara a day earlier, Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the "barbaric violence" being committed in Islam's name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, right, kisses Pope Francis' head during an ecumenical prayer at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. The two major branches of Christianity represented by Bartholomew and Francis split in 1054 over differences on the power of the papacy. The two spiritual heads will participate in an ecumenical liturgy and sign a joint declaration in the ongoing attempt to reunite the churches. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Francis arrives for a vigil in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Pope Francis on Sunday opens a two-week meeting of bishops and cardinals from around the world aimed at making the church's teaching on family life, marriage, sex, contraception, divorce and homosexuality, relevant to today's Catholic families. The pre-synod debate has been dominated by mudslinging between liberals and conservatives over divorce and remarriage, but there are many more issues up for discussion. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Cardinal Jose' Policarpo smokes during a pause of the morning session of an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Pope Francis is leading a two-day meeting urging his cardinals to find "intelligent, courageous" ways to help families under threat today without delving into case-by-case options to get around Catholic doctrine. He said the church must find ways to help families with pastoral care that is "full of love."(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, flanked by cardinals Angelo Sodano, left, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, second from right, and Norberto Rivera Carrera, arrives to open the morning session of an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. Pope Francis is leading a two-day meeting urging his cardinals to find "intelligent, courageous" ways to help families under threat today without delving into case-by-case options to get around Catholic doctrine. He said the church must find ways to help families with pastoral care that is "full of love."(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Top row from left; Archbishop of Managua Leopoldo Jose' Brenes Solorzano, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Bishop Beniamino Stella, attend an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Pope Francis opened the two-day meeting by urging his cardinals to find "intelligent, courageous" ways to help families under threat today without delving into case-by-case options to get around Catholic doctrine. He said the church must find ways to help families with pastoral care that is "full of love." Solorzano, Nichols and Poli are amongst the 19 prelates who will be elevated as cardinals during a ceremony Saturday. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis waves to reporters as he arrives with Brazilian Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis as they arrive for an extraordinary consistory in the Synod hall at the Vatican City, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Cardinals from around the globe have begun discussing some of the most contentious issues in the church amid findings from Vatican-mandated surveys that most Catholics reject church teaching on contraception, divorce and homosexuality. Pope Francis opened the two-day meeting Thursday by urging his cardinals to find "intelligent, courageous" ways to help families under threat today without delving into case-by-case options to get around Catholic doctrine. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis gestures in St.Peter's square at Vatican during his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. Pope Francis has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves at faithfuls upon his arrival at St.Peter's square for the weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. The pontiff today has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles as he wear a military Alpine hat upon his arrival at St.Peter's square for the weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. The pontiff today has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (L) shakes hand with the Spanish Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela (R) during an audience at the Vatican on March 3, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with the Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta (R) as his wife and European Parliament Member Daciana Sarbu (L) looks on during a private audience in the pontiff's studio at the Vatican on March 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALESSANDRA TARANTINO (Photo credit should read ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets a child dressed up as a pope as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis kisses a boy as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 24: Pope Francis (C) meets the president of the Republic of Haiti, Michael Joseph Martelly at his private library on February 24, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Pope announced February 24, first overhaul of the Vatican bureaucracy in 25 years. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 21: Pope Francis arrives at the Paul VI Hall for the Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals during his first consistory on February 22, 2014. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 21: Pope Francis greets cardinals as he arrives at the Synod Hall for the morning session of Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals during his first consistory on February 22. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis hold the gospel as he celebrates mass together with new appointed cardinals in St Peter's basilica at the Vatican on February 23, 2014. Pope Francis create his first batch of cardinals, with 19 coming from South America, Africa and Asia. The new 'princes of the Church' with scarlet-red birettas and gold rings at a grandiose ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica that Vatican observers say should help correct a perceived bias towards European cardinals. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis salutes the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is welcomed by faithfuls while arriving for a visit to the parish of San Tommaso on the outskirts of Rome on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is welcomed by faithfuls while arriving for a visit to the parish of San Tommaso on the outskirts of Rome on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 14: Pope Francis waves the crowd during a Valentine's Day celebration at the St Peter's square in Vatican City, Vatican, on February 14, 2014. Almost 20.000 couple gather to celebrate Valentine's Day at the St Peter's square. (Photo by Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pope Francis listens to a speaker delivering his message translated in different languages during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis is greeted by faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis sits at a table with Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou N'Guesso on the occasion of their private audience in the pope's library at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Gentile, pool)
Pope Francis prays in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast, in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
A decorated Christmas tree is seen in the foreground as Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. The pontiff is scheduled to pray in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary in downtown Rome on the occasion of the Immaculate Conception feast later in the afternoon. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Fernando Canini, director of Rome's Wax Museum fixes a new skull-cap as he puts the finishing touches to the wax statue of Pope Francis, in his laboratory in Rome Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Pope Francis wax statue will be put on display, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis kisses a child in St. Peter's Square during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
FOR USE AS DESIRED, YEAR END PHOTOS - FILE - Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who chose the name of Francis is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, presents Pope Francis with a Menorah during their meeting at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. Netanyahu is on a visit to Italy, which include a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
Pope Francis leaves at the end of a Mass on the occasion of his visit to the Parish Church of St. Cirillo Alessandrino, in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis is cheered by faithful upon his arrival at the Parish Church of St. Cirillo Alessandrino, in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets a group of sick children, suffering from tumor, who came to meet him from Poland, at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Francis waves to faithful at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Francis has cheered the thousands of pilgrims who braved a cold snap belting Italy to attend his weekly general audience, saying they were courageous to come out. Francis himself was bundled up in a white double-breasted winter coat and scarf, but it wasn't enough. He had to use his sleeves as a muffler to keep his hands warm amid temperatures that on Wednesday dipped to freezing with the wind chill factored in. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis grabs a shirt thrown to him by faithful as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. A chilly Pope Francis has cheered the thousands of pilgrims who braved a cold snap belting Italy to attend his weekly general audience, saying they were courageous to come out. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, right, and Paraguay's President Horacio Cartes talk during a private audience at the Vatican, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto, pool)
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis bends to kiss an icon of the Madonna, given to him by Russian President Vladimir Putin, standing beside him, on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. Putin and Francis met privately for 35 minutes Monday evening in the pope's private library. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Francis exchange gifts with Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina Vjekoslav Bevanda during a private audience at the Vatican, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 (AP Photo/Stefano Rellandini, pool)
In this photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano Pope Francis is presented with a jersey reading his name during a meeting with FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter, left, at the Vatican Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. "We spoke the same language and it was language of football," Blatter said during a press conference following the meeting, ' It was really a meeting between two sportsmen and two football fans."(AP Photo/L' Osservatore Romano, ho)
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ISTANBUL (AP) - Pope Francis stood Saturday for two minutes of silent prayer facing east in one of Turkey's most important mosques, a powerful vision of Christian-Muslim understanding at a time when neighboring countries are experiencing violent Islamic assault on Christians and religious minorities.

His head bowed, eyes closed and hands clasped in front of him, Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, in the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque, shifting gears to religious concerns on the second day of his three-day visit to Turkey.

"May God accept it," Yaran told the pope of their prayer.

The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi called it a moment of "silent adoration." Lombardi said Francis told the mufti twice that Christians and Muslims must "adore" God and not just praise and glorify him.

It was a remarkably different atmosphere from Francis' first day in Turkey, when the simple and frugal pope was visibly uncomfortable with the pomp and protocol required of him for the state visit part of his trip. With President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's mega-palace, honor guard and horseback escort now behind him, Francis got down to the business of being pope, showing respect to Muslim leaders, celebrating Mass for Istanbul's tiny Catholic community and meeting with the spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Francis bowed before Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and asked him "to bless me and the church of Rome" at the end of an ecumenical service Saturday evening. The Orthodox leader obliged, kissing Francis' bowed head. The two major branches of Christianity represented by Bartholomew and Francis split in 1054 over differences on the primacy of the papacy, giving particular resonance to Francis' display of deference.

Francis' visit comes at an exceedingly tense time for Turkey, with Islamic State militants grabbing territory next door in Syria and Iraq and sending some 1.6 million refugees fleeing across the border. Some refugees were expected to attend Francis' final event on Sunday before he returns to Rome.

Francis nodded, smiled and looked up in awe as Yaran gave him a tour of the Blue Mosque, famed for its elaborate blue tiles and cascading domes. Presenting the pope with a blue, tulip-designed tile, Yaran said he prayed to God that his visit would "contribute to the world getting along well and living in peace."

"We are in need of prayers. The world really needs prayers," Yaran said.

Francis was following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI, who visited Turkey in 2006 amid heightened Christian-Muslim tensions over a now-infamous papal speech linking violence with the Prophet Mohammed. The Vatican added the stop at the Blue Mosque at the last minute to show Benedict's respect for Muslims, a gesture that was greatly appreciated by Turks.

The Vatican also acted to avoid offense to its Muslim hosts this time around by moving up Francis' visit to the mosque so it wouldn't coincide with noon prayers.

After he left, Francis walked a short distance to tour the nearby Haghia Sofia, which was the main Byzantine church in Constantinople - present-day Istanbul - before being turned into a mosque following the Muslim conquest of the city in 1453. The Haghia Sophia is now a museum, although some Islamic groups want it to be converted back into a mosque.

Pope Paul VI, who made the first-ever papal visit to Turkey in 1967, fell to his knees in prayer inside Haghia Sophia, triggering protests by Turks who claimed Paul had violated the secular nature of the domed complex. Francis avoided any religious actions inside.

Halfway through his tour, the Muslim call for prayer echoed off Haghia Sophia's marble walls, an evocative moment that symbolized the crossroads of the Ottoman and Roman empires, East and West, which Istanbul represents.

Museum director Hayrullah Cengiz pointed to a niche with a Byzantine fresco of the Virgin Mary holding an infant Jesus, saying it was his favorite corner because the area also features Arabic writings of the names of the Prophet Mohammed and Allah.

"They are all together," Cengiz said.

Later Saturday, Bartholomew and Francis presided over an ecumenical prayer service at the Orthodox patriarchate on the eve of the feast of St. Andrew which both will celebrate Sunday.

Their embrace at the end of Saturday's service was reminiscent of their meeting in May in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, when Francis bowed down and kissed Bartholomew's hand.

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