The homes will be handed over on Palm Sunday, as part of the traditional Lenten Pilgrimage to the village of Bethpage, located on the eastern slopes of mount Har Ha-Zetim, near the Garden of Olives.
In the last forty years an increasing number of Christians have been motivated to leave the Holy Land due to poverty, insecurity, general restrictions, and a lack of work. The Franciscans hope the free homes will give them incentive to stay. In 1965, Christians made up 65 percent of the population in the Holy Land; today, they are less 12 percent.
Pope Benedict has also expressed particular concern regarding Christians in the Holy Land. At Christmas, the Holy Father addressed a special message to them, offering his prayers and echoing the concerns expressed by the bishops of the Middle East.
He also expressed his concern during a Feb. 1 meeting with members of the Commission for Catholic Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
.- The Franciscan Custodians of the Holy Land are hoping to stem the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land with a project that will construct 70 new homes in Jerusalem for poor Christian families, the Fides news agency has reported.