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Bishops Support Jews in Urging Papal Meeting

June 23, 1987|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — U.S. Roman Catholic bishops Monday threw their support behind American Jews who have been seeking a meeting with Pope John Paul II to discuss the Vatican decision to grant Austrian President Kurt Waldheim an audience.

In a statement issued in Washington, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops said such a meeting would be appropriate because of the controversy caused by the Vatican action.

"I see the wisdom of considering further dialogue at some appropriate level with a representative international Jewish agency," said conference President John May, the archbishop of St. Louis. "How this may be done is beyond my particular competence to determine."

May's statement was the first official U.S. Catholic response to the Vatican announcement that John Paul had agreed to meet with Waldheim on Thursday.

The announcement prompted the American Jewish Congress to call a boycott of a planned meeting between the Pope and U.S. Jewish leaders during John Paul's September pastoral visit to the United States.

Waldheim has been barred from the United States because of his alleged Nazi past.

Bishop May said in his statement: "I am aware of the sensitivity of this and related issues for the Jewish community in the United States and throughout the world."

May noted that John Paul did not initiate Thursday's meeting with Waldheim and said such a meeting "is in keeping with the standard practice of the Holy See to receive duly elected political leaders."

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