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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world encouraging them to participate in the collection for the Holy Land, which traditionally takes place on Good Friday.

  In the letter, which also bears the signature of Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, then secretary of the same congregation, now president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, the two prelates express the Church's "profound concern" for the position of Christians, particularly following the conflict in Gaza.

  They also underline how Benedict XVI "constantly comforts Christians, and all the inhabitants of the Holy Land, with special words and gestures, coupled with his desire to make a pilgrimage in the historical footsteps of Jesus".

  "The wounds opened by violence make the problem of emigration more acute, inexorably depriving the Christian minority of its best resources for the future. The Land that was the cradle of Christianity risks ending up without Christians".

  Cardinal Sandri and Archbishop Veglio make an appeal to help "our Christian brothers and sisters of the Holy Land who, along with other inhabitants of vast areas of the Middle East, have long aspired after that peace and tranquillity which are still so much under threat".

  The Congregation for the Oriental Churches interprets the Pope's "loving solicitude" for the ecclesial community in the Holy Land, "again exhorting all Catholics to contribute, also with material resources, to the upkeep of the Holy Sites".

  The prefect and secretary of the dicastery give assurances that "Churches of the Latin rite and of the various Eastern rites, which benefit from this vital aid, express their recognition with constant prayers for the particular Churches of the whole world".

  A document drawn up by the Custody of the Holy Land and a note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, details the projects undertaken using the 2008 collection.

  Apart from providing study grants for priests and seminarians from the Holy Land to study in pontifical universities, various restoration projects were carried out in, among other places: Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Haifa, Magdala, Nazareth and Nablus (the Shechem of antiquity). Funds were also distributed to support parishes, families, schools and universities, and - through the Custody of the Holy Land - to various cultural projects, such as the faculty of biblical sciences and archaeology of the "Studium Biblicum Franciscanum" in Jerusalem.

  The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem has published a special prayer for Benedict XVI's forthcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 8 to 15 May, in the hope that "this visit will be for the Holy Land a moment of renewal and a time of particular grace".
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VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

 - Appointed Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, apostolic nuncio to Lithuania and Estonia, as apostolic nuncio to Latvia.

 - Appointed Fr. Francois Kalist of the clergy of Bourges, France, episcopal vicar for the formation of adults and diocesan delegate for ecumenism, as bishop of Limoges (area 11,085, population 481,000, Catholics 398,000, priests 106, permanent deacons 6, religious 179), France. The bishop-elect was born in Bourges in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1986.

 - Elevated the territorial prelature of Libmanan (area 1,862, population 530,000, Catholics 488,000, priests 35, religious 15), Philippines, to the rank of diocese, with the same territorial configuration as before, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Caceres. He appointed Bishop Jose Rojas Rojas, prelate of Libmanan, as the first bishop of the new diocese.

 - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the territorial prelature of Aiquile, Brazil, presented by Bishop Adalberto Rosat O.F.M., upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Jorge Herbas Balderrama O.F.M.

 - Appointed Fr. Walter Jehova Hera Segarra O.F.M., minister provincial and vice president of the Ecuadorian Conference of Religious, as apostolic vicar of the apostolic vicariate of Zamora en Ecuador (area 10,556, population 126,900, Catholics 121,000, priests 24, religious 66), Ecuador. The bishop-elect was born in Bulan, Ecuador in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1992.
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