Israel bars Christian leaders wearing a cross at Jerusalem Wall

Leaders of Ireland's main Christian churches were barred from praying at occupied Jerusalem's Western Wall Thursday because they refused to remove the crosses they were wearing.

Israel bars Christian leaders wearing a cross at Jerusalem Wall
Roman Catholic Cardinal Sean Brady, Church of Ireland Archbishop Alan Harper and Presbyterian and Methodist Moderators John Finlay and Roy Cooper arrived at the wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, without giving prior notice to Israeli authorities, Brady told the Irish broadcast network RTE.

"We encountered some difficulty in gaining access. There was a difficulty about us wearing our crosses," he said. "We were under constraints of time ... and we decided to move on."

Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, said "They were asked to remove the crosses, but they refused." "I think it is important that they visit the Western Wall, but they should have covered up the crosses to respect the place, just like Jews wouldn't wear their ritual prayer shawls when entering a Christian holy place."

The prelates are on a four-day visit to Israel and the West Bank to promote peace and show solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land, a statement from Ireland's Catholic Communications Office said.

On a historic visit in 2000, Pope John Paul II prayed at the Western Wall, and pictures clearly show the pontiff wearing a large gold cross while praying there. He was accompanied by Michael Melchior, an orthodox rabbi who was an Israeli Cabinet minister at the time.

However, 13 visiting Austrian bishops who tried to pray at the wall last December while wearing crosses were made to stand behind a fence several yards from the ancient site.

Cardinal Brady told RTE he and his colleagues later met Israeli Cabinet minister Isaac Herzog, whose grandfather was Ireland's first chief rabbi.

"Minister Herzog gave us an apology, which we accept," Brady said. "We think the matter should rest there."

Last Mod: 02 Mayıs 2008, 15:00
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