VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The
Congregation for Eastern Churches is urging Catholics worldwide to support
the Good Friday collection for the Church in the Holy Land.
Leonardo Sandri, prefect of that dicastery, sent a letter with an appeal
to recall this "commitment that dates back to apostolic times."
affirmed that "the Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the universal
Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the experience of grace
and suffering that marks her journey."
"The Christians of the East
are experiencing the actuality of martyrdom and are suffering because of
the instability or absence of peace," the prelate observed.
continued: "The most disturbing sign of this is their inexorable
"Indeed a few positive signs in some situations do not
suffice to invert the sorrowful tendency of Christian emigration which
impoverishes the entire area, draining it of the most vital forces
constituted by the young generations."
"It is therefore up to us,"
the cardinal stated, "to join the Holy Father to encourage the Christians
of Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine, of Jordan and of the surrounding
He noted that "this appeal for the collection is
inherent in the cause of peace, of which the brothers and sisters of the
Holy Land desire to be effective instruments in the hands of the Lord for
the good of the whole of the East."
"The collection everywhere
remains the ordinary and indispensable means of promoting the life of
Christians in that beloved land," the prefect affirmed.
Benedict XVI´s words in "Verbum Domini," Cardinal Sandri affirmed:
"The more we appreciate the universality and the uniqueness of
Christ´s person, the more we look with gratitude to that land where
Jesus was born, where he lived and where he gave his life for
"The stones on which our Redeemer walked are still charged with
his memory and continue to ´cry out´ the Good News."
added that "Christians who dwell in the land of Jesus and bear witness to
their faith in the Risen One are called to serve not only as a beacon of
faith for the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom,
and equilibrium in the life of a society which traditionally has been, and
continues to be, pluralistic, multi-ethnic and
The Holy Land Custody released a
report about the projects it has supported over the past two years in its
mission "to keep alive the liturgy in the places of worship, to take care
of pilgrims, to enhance apostolic works, and support the Christian
community" in that region.
Among the projects supporting the holy
places were included the renovation of the Sanctuary of Bethany next to
the tomb of Lazarus, the renovation of St. Catherine´s Church next
to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the planning of
restoration works at the Shrine of the Transfiguration at Mount
The custody supported the final phase of the recreation of
the Kidron Valley at Gethsemane, as well as an archeological project in
Magdala, where Mary Magdalene was born.
Other projects of
restoration were undertaken at various sites in Jerusalem, Ain Karem (at
the birthplace of St. John the Baptist), Jaffa, Nain (where Jesus
resurrected a widow´s son), Tabga (Sanctuary of the Primacy of St.
Peter), and Mount Nebo (Memorial Shrine of Moses the Prophet).
custody also undertook several projects on behalf o the local community,
setting up university scholarships and crafts workshops for
It supported several initiatives in favor of families, such
as a family counseling parish program, a medical assistance fund, and a
Parish constructions and renovations were
undertaken in various communities in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Cana and
Constructions were also undertaken at schools in Ramleh,
Bethlehem, Jericho and Jordan.
The custody aided in housing
development projects for the poor and young families, including the
assignment of 69 apartments and the rehabilitation of 70 houses for
Christian families in Jerusalem, the upkeep of houses for the poor in
Bethlehem, the development of 124 apartments in Jaffa, and the
construction of a residential complex with 80 apartments in