Cardinal Kasper Warns Israel About Nazareth Mosque

JERUSALEM, NOV. 21, 2001 ( A Vatican aide warned Israeli government officials that the construction of the mosque in Nazareth «does not help relations between Christians and Muslims.»

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Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, is in Israel until Thursday to «promote dialogue between Jews and Christians,» the Foreign Affairs Ministry reported.

The German cardinal told officials that the mosque «might generate problems in the state of Israel.»

The proposed building is widely seen as a provocation launched by a local, sometimes-violent Muslim fundamentalist group. The mosque is not needed, since the Muslim community already has other places of worship.

Yasser Arafat and other Arab leaders have expressed opposition to the mosque´s construction.

Though building permits are yet to be granted, the fundamentalists began work on the mosque´s foundations last week, and the Israeli government raised no objections.

On Tuesday, Cardinal Kasper met with Foreign Minister Moshe Katsav, who had invited him officially.

Today the cardinal visited Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust, in Jerusalem, and later met with two the great rabbis of Israel: Meir Lau and Eliahou Bakchi Doron.

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