German cardinal appointed head of Vatican council on Christian unity

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2001

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- A German cardinal has replaced an Australian as head of the Vatican council working to promote unity among Christians.

The Vatican said Cardinal Walter Kasper, 67, was picked by the pontiff to be the new president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians. Kasper, who previously served in the council's No. 2 spot, was elevated to cardinal last month.

Pope John Paul II has made ecumenism, or closer relations among Christians, a major goal of the Catholic church in Christianity's third millennium. In particular, John Paul has been trying to close the distance between Catholics and Orthodox believers.

Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, who had labored for years to help foster the pontiff's dream for closer unity among Christians, retired due to age. Cassidy is 76.

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