The head of the Congregation that oversees the Church in the Holy Land, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has appealed to the Catholic Church to provide assistance to the Christians there, so that “the future may be welcomed with hope.”
The summons to support Christians in the Holy Land went out in the form of a letter to Catholic bishops all over the world, and to their respective Churches.
Cardinal Sandri’s appeal was made on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, and asked for continued spiritual and material support for the Catholic community in the Holy Land.
"The absence of peace", says the cardinal in the English-language version of the letter, "exacerbates the many long-standing problems as well as the poverty afflicting the region of the Holy Places. That absence also contributes to the creation of new difficulties. Thus, we must recognize that Christians who reside there are a priority for the attention of the entire Catholic Church, together with that of all other Churches and ecclesial communities.”
The cardinal pointed to the annual Good Friday Collection as one specific way for Catholics to help those in the Holy Land and expressed his hope that "every local Church shall participate in the effort to further our commitment to charity.”
"In this way", he adds, "the Latin community openly supports the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Franciscans who are Custodians of the Holy Land, and all those belonging to the Eastern Catholic Churches. The desire of the Holy See is that the charitable outreach by all Catholics will not simply be viewed as occasional, but as so continuous and profound that the future may be welcomed with hope,” he said.
Cardinal Sandri also made sure to explain that when the Congregation for Oriental Churches distributes aid, it does so without any “religious, cultural or political distinctions.”
Instead, the aim of the relief is “to equip the younger generations to take their place in society in a manner which renders them competent and able to transmit the worth of their Catholic education and formation.”
Among the concerns of the cardinal is stopping the flow of Christian immigration from the Holy Land. “We must seek to safeguard Christianity’s historic legacy by striving to preserve those ‘living communities’ in which the Mystery of Christ, our Peace, is cherished and celebrated," he explained.
Cardinal Sandri concluded his letter by encouraging his fellow bishops “to authorize once again this 'Collection for the Holy Land' owing to the merit of its objectives and its specific characteristics.”