(JNS.org) A compromise on the timing of Pope Francis’s planned visit to the Western Wall on May 26 appears to have been reached. The pope was originally scheduled to visit the holy site at 8 a.m. on a Monday. But controversy arose when some Jewish officials said the early visit would disturb Jews during their morning prayers.
A senior Western Wall official had told Israel Hayom that sunrise prayers, which have been held for the past four decades, could not be canceled due to the pope’s scheduled visit. 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.
Recent discussions between Israeli officials and the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel resulted in a proposal to delay the pontiff’s visit by an hour and close off the Western Wall plaza only after the Jewish morning prayers are concluded. According to the proposal, prayers will continue inside the hall throughout the event. Bar mitzvah ceremonies scheduled for the same morning will take place after the pope leaves the site.