.- As the day of the papal visit to the Synagogue of Rome approaches, another religious leader has decided to join the Pope for what looks to be a full itinerary. On Jan. 17, Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem will accompany the Holy Father on his historic stop.
According to Vatican Radio, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, the archbishop of the Latin Rite Catholic churches of Israel, Palestine and Jordan, will be with the Holy Father on his Sunday visit to the synagogue.
The Pope, the Patriarch and other officials from the Holy See will be met a short distance from the synagogue just before 4:30 p.m. by the Presidents of the Jewish communities of Rome and of Italy. The two Jewish leaders will lead them past two monuments where all will pay their respects to those deported from the Jewish ghetto of Rome on Oct. 16, 1943 and remember a small child that was killed in an attack outside of the synagogue in 1982.
The Pope and his retinue will then be met by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the central staircase leading into the synagogue. Once they are inside, the Catholic visitors will be welcomed by choral music. Speeches and prayers will follow.
At the conclusion of these addresses, the Holy Father and the Head Rabbi will meet privately. After the meeting, Benedict XVI will visit the synagogue's gardens, where an olive tree will be planted in commemoration of his visit.
The afternoon visit will conclude with the opening of an exhibit in the Jewish Museum of Rome and a meeting with representatives of the Jewish community.
The visit will make Benedict XVI the second Pope to officially enter the Synagogue of Rome after Pope John Paul II first did so in 1986.