(terrasanctablog) “Do not be afraid”: Jesus’ words resonate in the letter that Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches, sent to bishops around the world on the occasion of this year’s Collection for the Holy Land. “Every day Christians in various regions of the Middle East are questioning whether to stay or emigrate; they live in insecurity or suffer violence, sometimes simply because they profess their faith, that is our own faith.” This is what Sandri wrote in his letter. His “Do not be afraid” is thus directed toward them, our parents in the faith. This is why the Universal Church has not failed to reach the needy through fundraising, through the help of dioceses from around the world in order to help the Mother Church of Jerusalem.
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“On Good Friday we would like to bring Jerusalem’s cry for peace to the Cross so that the world, starting with Jesus’ land, can become a City of Peace.” Christians of the Holy Land rely heavily on the help that comes to them during this special moment of the year. The collection is therefore regulated by specific pontifical provisions that primarily allocate funds to the Franciscan Custody, responsible for the maintenance of the different shrines at the holy places. And on the pastoral, educational, welfare, healthcare and social structures that help improve the life of the parishes and of the various ecclesial bodies, so that as active and lively communities they can be a safeguard of the Gospel.
The money raised will go to the completion of urgent restorations, such as the renovation of the roof of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and over several years, it will go to support projects that provide housing to young families so that they can remain in the Holy Land. But that is not all: the collection will go toward implementing a comprehensive school network, especially through the parishes, fostering a widespread and level of quality education that is already well appreciated on an ecumenical and interreligious level.
Special attention will be given to possible emergencies and in 2013, and as in years past, the priority is Syria, stricken by a war that has sadly recently celebrated its third since the violence began.
The Catholic communities of the Holy Land through the Good Friday Collection will receive support to be close to the poor and suffering without any distinction of creed or ethnicity. The parishes will keep their doors open to every need, as will well as schools, where Christians and Muslims are preparing for a future of respect and collaboration. Hospitals and clinics, hospices and community centers will continue to offer their assistance. So, starting now—concluded Cardinal Sandri—we will accompany Pope Francis, who is preparing to become a pilgrim of unity and peace in the Holy Land, a long-awaited visit a long-awaited, desired and necessary visit. It confirms the faith of Christians, and makes them ever more capable of mercy, forgiveness and love. The Middle East is in desperate need of this.