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Pope Frances Embarks On Trip To Middle East

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Pope Francis is taking his push for peace on a Holy Land journey.

As CBS 2′s Dick Brennan reported, the pope started his historic trip to the Middle East, arriving first in Jordan Saturday.

Pope Francis was cheered like a rock star as he drove into the stadium in Amman.

The pope stopped more than once to kiss babies, and then celebrated Mass by praying for peace in the region.

Following the service, Pope Francis visited with Syrian refugees who fled to Jordan to escape the war in their country.

He then spent a quiet moment at the Jordan River, where Christians believe Jesus was baptized.

In Jerusalem, the city is gearing up for the pope’s arrival and some New Yorkers visiting said the city was already dealing with gridlock.

“Oh my gosh the traffic here is already — I can’t imagine that it gets worse. Especially when they close down the street,” said New York City resident Susan Wiener.

“I’m glad the pope is coming here, but we’re really concerned with getting around,” said Michael Wiener.

The Vatican said the pope’s visit is strictly religious, but many are hoping for a wider message.

The pope will be holding a Mass on Sunday at Manger Square in Bethlehem.

Hin Koury told Brennan Palestinians want to hear a message that inspires peace in the region.

“This man comes, he’s the prince of hope. We can only hope he can bring something better,” Koury said.

Following Mass in Bethlehem on Sunday, the pope will be flown to Tel Aviv for an official Israeli welcome.

On Monday, Pope Francis will meet separately with Jewish and Muslim leaders in Jerusalem.

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