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Israeli opens access to place claimed as site of Jesus' baptism

Catholic World News - July 28, 2011

The Israeli government is re-opening public access to a site cherished by Orthodox Christians as the place where Jesus was baptized.

Qasr al-Yahud, on the west bank of the Jordan River, had been closed after the 1967 war, when Israeli military forces mined the area to prevent invasion from Jordan. In the 1980s a narrow passage was cleared, allowing small Orthodox groups to visit the site. Now Israeli officials have completed the task of clearing the mines, and the public will be allowed to visit.

Qasr al-Yahud is one of two different sites that are claimed as the place where Jesus was baptized. Most Catholic scholars favor the claim of al-Maghtas, on the east side of the Jordan. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited al-Maghtas during their visits to Jordan, in 2000 and 2009 respectively.

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