Cardinal Kasper Gets Top Ecumenism Post

New President of Council for Promoting Christian Unity

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 4, 2001 ( The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has a new president: Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Confirming the expectations of Vatican experts, John Paul II on Saturday appointed the German as president of the council, replacing Australian Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, who resigned for reasons of age.

John Paul II also named the new secretary of the council, to replace Cardinal Kasper: Canadian Father Marc Oullet, 56, who has also been raised to episcopal dignity. From 1995 to 2000, Father Oullet was consultor of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy.

Cardinal Kasper, who will be 68 on Monday, is a world-renowned theologian. From 1989-1999, he was bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. He was elevated to cardinal last month.

In March 1999, the Pope called him to Rome and appointed him secretary of the Vatican Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Kasper has been one of the most committed theologians in the dialogue with Lutherans, which resulted in the October 1999 signing of the Augsburg Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

In an article in the latest issue of the Italian magazine Il Regno, Cardinal Kasper addresses the future of ecumenism. He acknowledges the present difficulties, but speaks about «an irreversible option.»

«Whoever wished to return to the situation of the past, not only would be mad but would be abandoned by the Holy Spirit,» the cardinal said.

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