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Germany

Pope Expected to Visit Cologne Synagogue

Pope Benedict XVI is to visit Cologne's synagogue during his trip to the city for the World Youth Day celebrations in August, Cardinal Joseph Meisner told reporters in Cologne Tuesday. Meisner, archbishop of the west German city, said the visit would be a "clear symbol" from the pope, during his first foreign visit as pontiff, to the country which bore responsibility for the Holocaust -- "a wound which for many of us is still open and bleeding." "The Jews are for us not only a people but brothers and sisters with whom we converge in spirit. "I am happy that a German pope will come to visit the Cologne synagogue, the oldest synagogue north of the Alps," said Meisner. The 78-year-old pope has repeatedly said he wants to pursue better relations with Jews, and has highlighted the importance of continuing to reflect on the Holocaust. Benedict XVI's predecessor, John Paul II, was the first pope to pray in a synagogue during a historic visit to the Rome synagogue in April 1986.

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