Pope Places Wreath on Zionism Founder's Tomb

Meets with Holocaust survivors at memorial

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 26, 2014 9:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – Yesterday, Pope Francis made waves by referring to the Palestinian territories as the "state of Palestine"—a papal first—and praying at a West Bank barrier that Palestinians see as a symbol of Israeli oppression. But today he showed some love to the other side of conflict by becoming the first pope to place a wreath on the grave of Theodor Herzl, founder of Zionism, the New York Times reports. He also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, where he kissed survivors' hands and repeated a Jewish phrase: "Never again, Lord, never again." The pope also prayed and left a note at the Western Wall. "I believe that your visit and call for peace will echo through the region" and help revitalize the peace process, Israeli president Shimon Peres told the pope, per the Jerusalem Post.

Pope Francis prays at the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, May 26, 2014.
Pope Francis prays at the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)
Pope Francis lays a wreath as Israel's President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, May 26, 2014.
Pope Francis lays a wreath as Israel's President Shimon Peres and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Pope Francis kisses the hand of holocaust survivor Sonia Tunik-Geron during a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance in the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 26, 2014.
Pope Francis kisses the hand of holocaust survivor Sonia Tunik-Geron during a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance in the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Pope Francis embraces two good friends traveling with him, Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka, left, and Omar Abboud, leader of Argentina's Muslim community, at the Western Wall.
Pope Francis embraces two good friends traveling with him, Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka, left, and Omar Abboud, leader of Argentina's Muslim community, at the Western Wall.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool)
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A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heaven. Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what we men have done. - Pope Francis, quoting the bible in remarks at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

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