At a Sunday Mass in Jordan attended by thousands from across the Middle East, Pope Benedict XVI preached a message advocating women's rights, as well as a dialogue among religions. "Sadly, this God-given role of the dignity of women has not always been understood and esteemed," the pope said, adding that Christians in the Middle East could set a strong example by treating women with respect and dignity. He also called on Christians to "persevere," a move that CNN reports was a subtle "acknowledgment that the Christian population has declined sharply in the past 50 years in the region." Thus far on his tour of the Middle East, aimed at promoting understanding between Muslims and Christians, the pope has avoided controversial subjects—in contrast to his recent tour of Africa, where he voiced his opposition to condom distribution. The next stop on the papal road show is Tel Aviv.
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