JERUSALEM (JTA) – It is not appropriate for the pope to wear a cross at the Western Wall, the rabbi in charge of the holy site said.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Israel in May and visit the Western Wall. He wears a large cross at all public appearances.
"My position is that it is not fitting to enter the Western Wall area with religious symbols, including a cross," Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch told the Jerusalem Post Monday. "I feel the same way about a Jew putting on a tallit and phylacteries and going into a church."
The rabbi has refused to allow other Catholic leaders to visit the site after they refused to remove or hide their crosses. In 2000, Pope John Paul II visited the site with his cross visible.
Israeli security forces also want to close the wall to worshipers beginning the night before and during the pope’s visit, which Rabinovitch also disputes.
"For the past 42 years, no one has ever been prevented from praying at the Western Wall and, God willing, no one ever will," Rabinovitch told the Jerusalem Post. "A solution needs to be reached that provides adequate security for the pope without infringing on the right of everyone to pray. The Western Wall belongs to everyone."