Symposium on the Future of Jerusalem: Cardinal Turcotte Meets with Arafat and Weizmann

Thursday, November 05 1998

(Ottawa – CCCB) Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte of Montreal met with Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority, and Ezer Weizman, President of the State of Israel, while attending the Symposium on the Future of Jerusalem.

Separate meetings took place between the leaders and the presidents of episcopal conferences from around the world who were attending the symposium, held in the Holy City, October 26-27. The symposium was organized by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Most Rev. Michel Sabbah, with the support of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The participants attending the conference were given a good description of the varied points of view on the future of Jerusalem. They heard of the situation first hand from representatives of the Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

Jerusalem: Symbol of Encounter and Reconciliation

In a statement at the end of the conference, the episcopal delegates reaffirmed their desire to have Jerusalem granted special status due to its “unique value” for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

“It is incumbent on the believers of the three religions, out of the love and hope they bear for her, and on the community of nations, because of the unique and universal character of the Holy City, to share their thoughts and expectations for the future of Jerusalem,” the statement declared. “Decisions will be made by political leaders but the concerns and hopes of believers must also be included in the pertinent negotiations.”

The participants also strongly indicated their desire that Jerusalem be a place of encounter and reconciliation among religions and people.

“Active communities of Jews, Christians and Muslims should enjoy true freedom of conscience and religion, including full access to the Holy Places, and their right to carry out their own religious, educational, and social activities.

“Such a statute should also guarantee the sacred character and the universal cultural heritage of the city. Free access to Jerusalem should be guaranteed to all, local people and pilgrims, friends and opponents. Finally this special statute should be supported by international guarantees.”

Visit to Rome

Following his return from the week-long visit to Israel, Cardinal Turcotte will leave Montreal for the Vatican this Sunday. The CCCB President will be accompanied by the Vice-President, Bishop Gerald Wiesner of Prince George, and the two General Secretaries, Msgr. Peter Schonenbach and Father Emilius Goulet, p.s.s. They will be making the annual visit to meet with representatives from a number of Vatican dicasteries.

The dicasteries include various Roman Curia offices, congregations, secretariats, councils, commissions and tribunals.