Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II visited Jerusalem on Thursday to lead the funeral marking the first visit by a Pope from the Coptic Church to Jerusalem since 1967.
The Pope made the trip to lead funeral prayers for Bishop Abraham, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Near East.
Described as an “exceptional trip” in statements to Ahram Online, the spokesperson of the Coptic Orthodox Church said that the Church will not be changing its stance on visiting the Holy Lands. The spokesperson added that the Pope will return to Cairo immediately after the funeral prayers.
The ban on pilgrimages to Israel was issued by Pope Shenouda III in 1979. The Church says the ban is a result of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem.
Despite the ban, a number of Coptic Christians often visit Jerusalem for pilgrimages.
For Muslims, similar fatwas (edicts) have been issued advising Muslims against visiting Jerusalem as a result of Israel’s occupation.