The comments of Cardinal Renato Martino have come at a timely juncture as world leader gathered at Annapolis, Maryland for talks on the 60 year-old conflict.
Catholic World News reports that Cardinal Martino, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants, said "like all other refugees, Palestinians have a right to return” during a press conference at which he introduced a new papal statement for the 94th World Day of Migrants which is marked for 13 January.
He added that he hoped Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would address the issue and by this time next year concrete measures would be under way, the Associated Press reports.
Israel's Embassy at the Holy See had no immediate comments on Martino's remarks.
An estimated 4.5 million Palestinian refugees live in camps throughout the Middle East. Tens of thousands of these refugees lost their homes with the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948.
UN Day of Solidarity with Palestinians Today
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is annually observed on 29 November. Special meetings will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, as well as at the United Nations Offices at Geneva and Vienna.
Palestinian refugees should return home, cardinal says (Catholic World News, 28/11/07)
Vatican official says Palestinian refugees have right to return(International Herald Tribune, 28/11/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Al[Awda - The Palestinian Right of return Coalition
Right if Return (Wikipedia)
Global Policy Forum
Caritas expresses solidarity with Palestinian people (CathNews, 03/12/04)
Palestinian Christians barred from Easter pilgrimage (CathNews, 13/04/04)
Pope prays wisdom will fuel mid-east peace (CathNews, 26/11/07)
International Church Action for Peace in Palestine & Israel (CathNews, 12/03/06)
Vatican official has high hopes for Middle East Peace Summit (CathNews, 0/06/03)
Bethlehem faces darkest hour, mayor says in Christmas message (CathNews, 13/12/06)
Pope spells out Mideast peace wish list (CathNews, 03/06/03)
Vatican asks Israel to get serious about peace efforts (CathNews, 15/07/03)
Vatican sends delegation to Anapolis (CathNews, 28/11/07)