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The pope appeared to be referring to recent tensions in Nazareth about plans to build a mosque near the Basilica of the Annunciation. The plans were scrapped in 2002 after intervention by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and others.

Nearly half of Nazareth’s 70,000 residents are Christian Arabs, predominantly Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox.

Some 40,000 people including pilgrims from across Europe attended the open-air Mass in a special amphitheater built for the event at Mount Precipice, where the Bible says an angry mob tried to hurl Jesus off a cliff.

It was the largest turnout of the four masses Benedict has celebrated during his visit that ends Friday, when he returns to Rome.