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.
Following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI who visited Turkey in 2006, Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaran, who had his palms turned toward the sky in a Muslim prayer, inside the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque.
"May God accept it," Yaran told the pope at the conclusion of a poignant moment of Christian-Muslim understanding.
The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi called it a moment of "silent adoration." Lombardi, who was standing behind the pope, said Francis told the mufti two times that we must "adore" God and not just praise and glorify him.
It was a remarkably different atmosphere from Fran cis' 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, greeting Istanbul's tiny Catholic community and later meeting with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.catholicism ] [ francis ] [ islam ] [ istanbul ] [ pope ] [ turkey ] [ vatican ]