Columbus Catholic Times, September 20, 2009
The 4th Annual Cradling Christianity event in the Diocese of Columbus has raised $75,000 to provide aid to the endangered Christian population of the Holy Land. The event was created by a group of local Catholics who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Landin 2006. They saw first hand the difficulties that Christians were facing in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Their pilgrimage leader was Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. Speaking to those in attendance at the dinner at St. Brigid of Kildare Parish, Fr. Vasko explained that in the place where Christ lived and preached Christians have been forced to emigrate out of their homeland because of the lack of education, jobs and housing. Christians now make up a mere 2% of the population in the Holy Land.
The keynote speaker for the evening was retired Bishop James Griffin. He spoke of his several visits to the Holy Land and his concern for the Christian presence in the land where our faith has its roots. He praised the efforts of the Franciscans and echoed the words of Pope Benedict XVI who has urged a continuation of the effort to educate the Christian population so that they have the skills to earn a living and remain in the Holy Land. Funding from groups such as Cradling Christianity have allowed Christian youth to attend college and they are now working as doctors, lawyers, teachers, architects and entrepreneurs and raising new families in the Holy Land. The Foundation has also helped to create job opportunities and has built much needed housing for Christians.