They are Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome and president of the Italian bishops’ conference, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. Vatican press office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls announced the news Tuesday.
Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome had invited the Holy Father to visit the synagogue for the second time, on the occasion of the celebration.
John Paul II became the first Pope after St. Peter to visit a synagogue, when he visited the Rome landmark in April 1986.
When Rabbi Di Segni visited the Holy Father last year, John Paul II recalled “that historic and unforgettable visit that has been a gift of the Almighty and represents an important stage on the path to understanding between Jews and Catholics.
Rabbi Di Segni expressed disappointment that the Pope would be unable to visit the synagogue, but said that “Cardinals Ruini and Kasper will be received with all honors.”