Did Pope Francis Call for Jewish Worship on the Temple Mount?
The official text of the speech Pope Francis gave in front of Israeli president Shimon Peres began:
I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind and sage words of greeting and your warm welcome. I am happy to be able to meet you once again, this time in Jerusalem, the city which preserves the Holy Places dear to the three great religions which worship the God who called Abraham. The Holy Places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity. Precisely for this reason, their sacred character must be perpetually maintained and protection given not only to the legacy of the past but also to all those who visit these sites today and to those who will visit them in the future. May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace! May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind! How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the Holy Places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.
This sure sounds like Francis is solidly on the side of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount.
On the other side of the coin, the Al Aqsa Foundation is warning that Jews are planning to do exactly what the Pope is encouraging: going to their holiest spot to pray and celebrate Jerusalem Day, or, in their words,“ceremonial dances and rituals of Talmud at the Al-Aqsa Mosque” that would “desecrate the Al Aqsa Mosque.”
The official Wafa news agency mentioned this part of the Pope’s speech, although probably for different reasons. I don’t think they thought this all the way through.
It must be mentioned that police cleared the Western Wall of most Jews from the vicinity while the Pope visited there, and they cleared the Temple Mount of practically all Muslims during the Pope’s visit as well. (The Al Aqsa Foundation did not complain about this.)
Removing people who might endanger others is prudent and necessary. Sometimes there is a valid security reason to limit access to holy places. But it is certainly wrong to ban every member of a religion from their own holiest place.
Just ask Pope Francis.