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Cardinal Kasper visits Jerusalem

The Vatican's Cardinal Walter Kasper is in Jerusalem to discuss the increasingly pressing issues of visas for religious and the emigration of Christians from the Holy Land.

He has secured meetings with political and religious leaders, from Israeli president Moshe Katzav to the Jewish community's chief rabbis and heads of Christian Churches.

Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the Commission for Relations with Jews, began his four day visit yesterday.

The agenda includes a number of sensitive matters including the issue of entry visas for the Church's religious personnel and the status of its property and institutions in the Holy Land.

The cardinal will also speak with political and religious authorities about the growing exodus of Catholic communities out of the region in the face of great difficulties.

Before departing for the Holy Land, Cardinal Kasper said during an interview on Vatican Radio that his visit must first of all encourage inter-religious relations: "We have a good commission made up of a mix of Jews and Catholics in Israeli," he said.

He added later in the interview, "There are political problems concerning visas and Christian properties (there)."

With regard to the problem of emigration, he said: "Young Christians still do not have much hope, and this leads to a major exodus from the region."

Cardinal Kasper visits Jerusalem ( 24/5/04)

Cardinal Kasper travels to Jerusalem (Vatican Information Service 24/5/04)

25 May 2004