Cardinal Kasper in Jerusalem to Address Problems of Catholics

To Broach the Topic of Visas for Religious

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JERUSALEM, MAY 24, 2004 ( A Vatican official arrived here to promote relations and resolve problems between Christians and Jews in the Holy Land.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, plans to meet with Catholic communities and representatives of Judaism and the Israeli government during his visit.

The cardinal will ask about the Israeli authorities’ non-issuance of visas to Catholic religious, Vatican Radio reported.

«There are political problems, which affect visas and Christian properties,» he said before leaving Rome today for Jerusalem.

«Christian young people do not yet have great hope, as for many centuries a great community of Christians has been present in the Holy Land and, if we go to the Holy Land, we do not want to be considered only as dead stones but as living stones,» the cardinal said. «This must all be addressed and discussed.»

Cardinal Kasper said that he will meet with the heads of the other Churches and Christian confessions, in particular with the Greek-Orthodox patriarch and with the Armenian patriarch.

«In this difficult situation it is necessary that the Churches collaborate for peace and the good of the Jewish people, as well as the Palestinian people,» he said. «They suffer a lot and we are in solidarity with them.»

«I will also meet, of course, with the Catholic community, which finds itself in a difficult situation and needs encouragement and a message of hope,» the Vatican official said.

During his stay in Jerusalem, he will meet with the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem, Catholic bishops, the Custodian of the Holy Land, and superiors and members of religious institutes and congregations.

The Ecumenical Institute of Advanced Theological Studies, of Tantur, invited the cardinal to participate in a colloquium, organized by that institution with the University of Notre Dame. Cardinal Kasper will deliver a talk entitled «Forgiveness and Purification of the Memory.» The cardinal’s visit ends Friday.

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