Papal Visit to Synagogue Likely Aug. 19

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2005 ( Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne confirmed that Benedict XVI will visit his city’s synagogue when he arrives for World Youth Day.

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The visit to the synagogue should take place Aug. 19. Cardinal Meisner noted the symbolic gesture implied in «a German Pope coming to visit the synagogue of Cologne.» Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, comes from Bavaria.

During a press conference today at Vatican Radio’s headquarters, the cardinal said that the Holocaust «is still an open wound for us Germans.»

The Jews are «our elder brothers and sisters,» he said. «We must cooperate so that nothing that occurred will be repeated.»

This will be the second visit of a modern Pope to a synagogue. John Paul II visited the synagogue in Rome in 1986.

Cardinal Meisner said that the president of Germany asked him if the election of a German Pope could be interpreted as an «absolution for the responsibilities of the two World Wars.»

«I answered him that a nation was not elected, but a man,» the cardinal said. «The fact that he is German, however, is not an obstacle for this election.»

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