Vatican Letter to Middle East Christians
02 Mar 2012 by Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Tension, hostility and
even violence are the daily bread of many of the Christian communities living in the biblical lands of the Middle East, said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
In a letter to bishops around the world, Cardinal
Sandri asked for widespread participation in the annual
collection on behalf of Christians in the Holy Land. The
Vatican released the cardinals letter March 1.
The collection, coordinated by the Congregation
for Eastern Churches, is taken up during Good Friday
services in many dioceses.
Cardinal Sandri said Good Friday is a special time
to remember Mideast Christians needs, which are bound up with the sufferings of the entire Middle East. For the disciples of Christ, hostility is often the daily bread that nourishes the faith.
Proceeds of the collection are distributed to Latin
and Eastern Catholic bishops, parishes, schools and
projects in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Egypt.
While the focus is on Catholic pastoral work in
the region, he said, the church also offers social services to the needy, whether or not they are Catholic.
In this way fraternity, which can overcome
division and discrimination, increases and gives renewed
impetus to ecumenical dialogue and interreligious
collaboration, he said.
Cardinal Sandri noted the ongoing high rates of
Christian emigration from the Holy Land as families seek
futures free from the threat of violence.
At the same time, those who stay need help not
only in maintaining their families, but also in preparing for a better future, he said. The regions Christians need support now for schools, medical assistance, critical housing (and) meeting places.
In addition to the cardinals letter, the Vatican
published a summary report on how the Franciscan Custos
of the Holy Land used the money it received from the
collection in 2010-2011. The friars improved facilities for
pilgrims at the holy sites in Bethlehem, Jerusalem,
Magdala, Jaffa, Mount Tabor, Nain, Tabgha and Mount
Nebo. They also provided university scholarships to 420
students throughout the region; provided counseling,
housing and medical care to families in need; and funded
construction or reconstruction projects at Catholic parishes and schools.
Tags: Middle East Christians Vatican Holy Land Congregation for Eastern Churches