Vatican City, 10 March 2015 (VIS) – Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has written a letter addressed to all bishops worldwide in view of the “Collecta pro Terra Sancta”, the collection for the communities of faithful and places in the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday. The letter is also signed by Archbishop Cyril Vasil, S.J., secretary of the same dicastery.
The cardinal, noting that the region is passing through a time of crisis, writes: “Presently, there are millions of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, where the roar of arms does not cease and the way of dialogue and concord seems to be completely lost. Senseless hatred seems to prevail instead, along with the helpless desperation of those who have lost everything and have been expulsed from the land of their ancestors. If the Christians of the Holy Land are encouraged to resist, to the degree possible, the understandable temptation to flee, the faithful throughout the world are asked to take their plight to heart. Also involved are brothers in Christ who belonged to various confessions: an ecumenism of blood which points toward the triumph of unity: 'ut unum sint'! This year presents a still more precious opportunity to become pilgrims in faith after the example of the Holy Father, who in May of last year visited this patch of land, so dear to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It is a chance to become promoters of dialogue through peace, prayer and sharing of burdens”.
The territories that will benefit from the Collection, in different ways and to differing extents, are: Jerusalem, Palestine and Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
A document prepared by the Custodian of the Holy Land lists the works carried out as a result of the 2014 Collecta. The emergency funds were distributed mostly in Syria and Iraq. Assistance was also provided for artisanal enterprises in Jordan; funding was given for parish communities, the reconstruction and restoration of places of interest and medical assistance in Bethlehem; and apartments were built in Jerusalem for poor families and young couples who wish to remain in the Holy Land. The remaining funds were used for projects involving schools, universities and cultural works, through the Custodian of the Holy Land, such as the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Media Centre, and for the maintenance and restoration of the Holy Places.