Francis’s visit to Herzl’s grave for a wreath laying will be fairly short, but many see it as having a wide significance in giving papal support for Zionism.
Speaking in Jerusalem last week, Abraham Skorka noted that Francis’s visit to Mount Herzl and Herzl’s grave could be understood as a nod to Zionism. “That is a meaningful act,” Skorka said. “He understands the importance of the Land of Israel and the State of Israel to the Jewish people.”
The two last popes who visited Israel — John Paul II in 2000 and Benedict XVI in 2009 — did not visit Herzl’s grave. (The first pope to visit, Paul VI in 1964, steadfastly refused to acknowledge that he was even in Israel.)
The visit may also act as a counterbalance to his support Sunday for the “State of Palestine.”