Pope celebrates mass in sports stadium in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating an open air mass in a sports stadium in the Jordanian capital.

Catholics from across the Middle East are attending the service.

As many as 20,000 people turned up at the stadium in Amman on the third day of Benedict’s weeklong pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Many held up flags from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and other countries.

About 500 children are to receive their first communion at the Sunday mass.

One Iraqi boy, 15-year-old Peter Samaan, says the pope’s visit to the Holy Land means a lot for Iraqi Christians, many who have fled their home country. Samaan says the mass is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to see the pope