Pope Benedict has prayed at the Western Wall, the place many Jews
consider to be Judaism's holiest site. The pope is on his second day
of a pilgrimage to Israel and has been meeting with officials of the
Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions. The pontiff has encountered
some controversy, early in his trip.
Pope Benedict visited
Jerusalem's Temple Mount, early Tuesday, meeting with the Grand Mufti
of Jerusalem, the Palestinians' chief cleric.
His message to the Muslim cleric was not controversial: He recalled the common roots shared by Christians, Jews and Muslims.
the pontiff walked to the Western Wall and said a prayer in Latin - the
official language of the Roman Catholic Church - before inserting a
note into the wall, as is the tradition.
In his prayer, the
pontiff told God he is here, in Jerusalem, the city of peace. He said
he brings to God the trials and suffering of all peoples and he prayed
He addressed his prayer to the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, biblical patriarchs recognized by Jews, Christians
and Muslims alike.
The pope's efforts to build bridges with members of other religions have met challenges, early in the trip.
meeting with Jewish and Muslim leaders in East Jerusalem was disrupted
late Monday when a prominent Palestinian Muslim cleric, Sheikh Tasir
al-Tamimi delivered an angry speech condemning Israel's attacks on
Palestinians and what he calls Israeli desecration of Jerusalem's holy
The cleric accused Israelis of killing innocent
Palestinians and attacking their mosques - all with what he said was
the blessing of their rabbis.
Tamimi appealed to the pope to
condemn what he says are Israeli crimes against Palestinians and to
persuade the Israeli government to stop its aggression on the
The outburst drew a protest from Israel's
Chief Rabbinate, which said it would not take part in discussions as
long as the cleric was present.
Pope Benedict's visit to the
Western Wall on Tuesday was yet another attempt to reach out to Jews,
many of whom harbor resentment for the persecution they suffered -
sometimes at the hands of Christians - over the centuries.
the Pope paid tribute to the six million Jews who were murdered by
German Nazis during the Second World War. Some Israeli politicians
later criticized the pontiff, who is German, for not personally
apologizing for the Holocaust.
The pope's agenda on Tuesday includes celebrating a Mass in front of thousands of people in East Jerusalem.