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Pope Francis makes historic visit to synagogue

The Argentine pontiff has described the relationship between Jews and Christians as an "unbreakable bond." He also condemned the use of violence in the name of religion amid a series of Islamist attacks across the globe.

Pope Francis on Sunday made his first visit to a synagogue in the Italian capital Rome in a show of interfaith friendship, following in the foot steps of his predecessors John-Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The pontiff delivered a message of peace, evoking "the unbreakable bond betweens Jews and Christians."

He also condemned the use of violence in the name of religion in the wake of attacks committed by Islamist militant groups that have spanned from France to Indonesia and Burkina Faso.

"Violence against men is in contradiction with any religion worthy of the name, and in particular the big monotheist religions," the pope said.

In introductory remarks, Ruth Dureghello, president of Rome's Jewish community said such violence needs to be condemned.

"The hatred that comes from racism and bias or worse, which uses God's name or words to kill, deserves our contempt and our firm condemnation," said Dureghello.

Pope Francis began the visit by laying a wreath at a plaque honoring Roman Jews who were rounded up by Nazis in 1943 and deported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.

He also visited another plaque marking the killing of a two-year-old boy in a 1983 attack on Rome's Great Synagogue, which also left 37 injured.

The pontiff has a long-standing friendship with Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka. Both men published a book of conversations on ethics, morality and faith, and have worked towards interfaith dialogue.

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ls/jlw (AP, AFP)

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