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 CNS Story:

KASPER-75 Mar-4-2008 (500 words) xxxi

Cardinal believes pope will have him continue his top Vatican roles

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On the eve of his 75th birthday, Cardinal Walter Kasper said he believes Pope Benedict XVI will have him continue as the Vatican's chief ecumenist and as its point man for dialogue with the Jews.

The German cardinal spoke to reporters March 4 after the German publisher Herder presented the fourth German edition of his theological text, "The God of Jesus Christ," and of a book reflecting on his work by two former students with a foreward by Pope Benedict.

Cardinal Kasper told Vatican Radio the message of his work "is that God is the center and the foundation and the aim of human life; it is the message of the Gospel."

Top Vatican officials must offer the pope their resignations when they turn 75 but the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said he was pleased to be able to continue in his post because "this is a truly fascinating work."

"All the churches believe in Jesus Christ as witnessed to in the sacred Scriptures and in the creed of the ancient church, which gives us a common foundation," he said.

"My concern is that this fundamental faith, which we have in common, is being forgotten, abandoned," he told the radio. "In ecumenism we must return to the foundations of our common faith and promote the drawing together of the churches on this basis."

As president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, Cardinal Kasper was asked about concern within the Jewish community over the Good Friday prayer Pope Benedict wrote for Catholic communities celebrating the liturgy according to the 1962 Roman Missal, often called the Tridentine rite.

The new prayer removed 1962 language referring to the "blindness" of the Jews, but it prays that Jews will recognize Jesus, the savior, and that "all Israel may be saved."

Several Jewish groups have asked the Vatican for clarification on whether the prayer calls for the conversion of the Jews.

Cardinal Kasper said March 4 that "a delegation from Jerusalem" would come to the Vatican before mid-March to meet with him and with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

Cardinal Kasper said Cardinal Bertone would make a statement, which should clarify the Vatican's position.

"I hope that things will be clearer," he said. "I think that we can overcome this irritation in the Jewish world."

The cardinal also told reporters that the Feb. 29 statement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the formula used for baptism was important for the Catholic Church's efforts to restore unity with other Christians.

The doctrinal statement insisted baptism must be administered in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Formulas using Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier or Creator, Liberator and Sustainer are not valid.

Cardinal Kasper said that because Christians recognize each other as Christians by virtue of baptism, knowing that the sacrament is valid is essential.

END


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