Itongadol.- Pope Francis will make a trip to Israel next month, but questions have arisen over his planned visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Western Wall officials have held meetings in recent days with the Israel Police and other security bodies to discuss the visit. The wall\’s officials say the scheduled timing of the pope\’s visit — 8 a.m. on a Monday — would disrupt worshippers there for morning prayers. They also say that with Monday being one of the two weekdays (the other being Thursday) on which it is customary to hold bar mitzvahs at the wall, the visit would interfere with ceremonies scheduled for that day.
A senior Western Wall official told Israel Hayom that sunrise prayers, which have been held for the past four decades, rain or shine, cannot be canceled due to the pope\’s scheduled visit. They were not canceled on the day of U.S. President Barack Obama\’s visit last year. The official also noted that around 100 families had already registered to hold bar mitzvah ceremonies on the morning of the pope\’s visit, and that 50 more were expected to do so.
"Their joy cannot be put off because of the pope\’s visit," the official said.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said, "The pope\’s visit cannot come at the expense of worshippers or bar mitzvah celebrants. A solution must be found to allow the visit to take place without disrupting worshippers. The Western Wall plaza cannot be closed for even one moment due to the visit."