Remnant News Watch
The Cross Forbidden at Jerusalem's Western Wall

Mark Alessio


Fourteen Austrian Catholic bishops visiting Jerusalem last week were “barred from approaching the Old City's Western Wall after refusing to remove crucifixes they were wearing as part of their formal attire,” reports Israel National News (Nov. 26, 2007). The bishops, who were in Israel to attend the Austrian Bishops Conference, were denied access to the site by Rabbi Rabinovitch, the rabbi for the Western Wall. Rabinovitch informed the bishops that they would be allowed to visit the “Wailing Wall” only on the condition that they first remove their crosses in order “not to offend the sensitivities of Jews there”:

The bishops, including the Archbishop of Vienna, opted to remain outside the barrier separating the prayer area from the rest of the Western Wall Plaza rather than remove their crosses. The group subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Rabbi Rabinovitch that was to take place in his Jerusalem office. Austrian officials said that the ban on crosses at the Wall was not made known to the Catholic delegation ahead of their arrival for the Austrian Bishops Conference, which was held in Israel for the first time last week.

Although there is no written law forbidding the wearing of the Cross at the Western Wall, it is the chief rabbi who determines protocol for the site. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Maariv, Rabbi Rabinovitch said, "appearing like that at the Wall and to a meeting with me is insulting and provocative." But in a Jerusalem Post article (Nov. 12, 2007), Rabinovitch denied that his actions were motivated by religions intolerance:

“Crosses are a symbol that hurts Jewish feelings," said Rabinovitch who refused to elaborate on precisely how or why the crosses were so offensive. "I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a Church. I would be the first to rebuke such a Jew for not behaving like a mensch."  Rabinovitch added that he was surprised the Catholic clerics refused to hide their crosses. "They did not have to take them off, just hide them. I've never encountered a Christian who has refused, including the Pope."

Afterwards, during a speech delivered at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, said, "I do not feel disappointed because we have seen the Wall from the terrace and we were able to participate in the prayers of the Jews from afar. Our decision to heed the requests not to approach the Wall was made out of respect for the religious sensitivities of the Jews."

Comment: Rabbi Rabinovitch says that Pope John Paul II hid his cross when he visited the Western Wall. Yet, a photo taken during John Paul’s March 26, 2000 visit (see above photo) depicts him resting his hand against the Wall in a prayerful pose. Prominent in the photo is the pectoral cross on the pontiff’s breast. What gives? Was that picture “photoshopped” by Evil Traditionalists?

Hardly. In fact, the website of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs  features a section entitled, Papal Visit to Israel – Selected Views. Included here is an essay, “The Visit of the Pope to the Holy Land,” by Sergio Itzhak Minerbi. Writing of John Paul’s visit to the Western Wall, Minerbi observes:

While every Jew visiting a Church abides to Christian customs, the Pope did not deem it necessary to demonstrate a parallel behavior near the Western Wall: he came with his pectoral cross and at the end he made the sign of the Cross.

In fact, Minerbi saw in the Pope’s display of the Cross the symbol of a “triumphalist Church” proclaiming that “the condemnation of the Jewish people still exists.” This analysis is, of course, nonsensical. Recall that the Pope’s “prayer” at the Western Wall included these words:

We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant

Triumphalist? Condemnation? If John Paul II had indeed adopted a “triumphalism” proper to his role as Vicar of Christ, his sentiments would have echoed those of the first Pope, St. Peter, when he announced to the crowds of Jerusalem after Pentecost, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know most certainly, that God hath made both Lord and Christ, this same Jesus, Whom you have crucified.” On the contrary, the pontificate of John Paul II was marked by an ongoing series of apologies to various groups “mistreated” by the Church and continuous doctrinal concessions in the cause of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Like no other Pope before, John Paul was truly loved by the world.

The question remains: Why has Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch promulgated a false account of John Paul’s actions at the Western Wall, and why is this falsehood being used to defend the public humiliation of Catholic bishops?

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “we preach Christ crucified: unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness.” And therein lies the rub. The Cross is the ultimate litmus test which will prove the absurdity of “interreligious dialogue.” The visible head of the Roman Catholic Church wears a Cross to the Western Wall .... and suddenly, he’s Attila the Hun. A group of Catholic bishops do likewise, and they are “shown the door.” Yet, just as Jesus Christ’s acceptance of the Cross was the defining moment of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind, so does a Catholic’s acceptance of “Christ crucified” define the very reason for his being. Hiding the Cross is not an option. In addition, by virtue of Christ’s Kingship, the Western Wall belongs to His followers as much as it does to anyone else.

In a July 13, 2007 article (“Signs of Trouble from the Pope”), published by the Israeli News Agency, Yedioth Internet, Rabbi Levi Brackman commented on the Motu Proprio, “Summorum Pontificum,” and the Good Friday Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews. In this article, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict are placed at odds with each other. John Paul is lauded. He “understood that in an era of globalization and weapons of mass destruction, harmony between religions is vital.” He “realized that as long as religions maintain that their truth must be the truth for all people, and everyone must ultimately take on their beliefs, the abyss awaits us.”

Pope Benedict, on the other hand, is vilified. He “is sending out an intolerant message and leading his followers along a path towards interreligious confrontation.” He displays “subtle bigotry not only towards the Jews but towards all other religions as well.” And, under his leadership, “it seems that the Catholic Church has openly embraced a similar ideology” to radical Islam!

We can expect to see more of this propaganda surfacing as the Latin Mass makes greater inroads into the life of today’s “mainstream” Church. The return of the Traditional Mass will, little by little, separate the wheat from the chaff, both within the Church and outside her. With the return of traditional prayers and their implications, the big, smiling masks of false ecumenism and interreligious dialogue will begin to fall-off, and the Catholic Church will once again be accused of “triumphalism,” her priests detained at non-Catholic holy sites and told to ditch their Crosses. If we’re blessed, we may even be led by a Pope whom the world comes to despise, in accord with Our Lord’s words: “If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you.”


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