Vatican City (AsiaNews) The Holy Land "continues to be the scene of a conflict that has lasted for decades", which "deprives Catholic communities and institutions of the adequate means to maintain and promote religious, humanitarian and cultural activities," thus "increasing the disturbing phenomenon of the constant exodus of Christians."
In these words, the Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and Patriarch of Antioch, Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, describes the situation in the "Land of the Lord" in his letter to all Catholic bishops, written on behalf of Benedict XVI, in view of the traditional "pro Terra Sancta" collection. Each year on Good Friday, in fact, offerings are collected worldwide for the Church of the Holy Land.
"The presence of Christians in the Holy Land," Cardinal Daoud writes, "is more necessary than ever for the peaceful future of the area, as it is also for the good of the whole universal Church, which ought to find in the Holy Places living communities that profess the Gospel faith."
He also recalls "the greatest concern for the Christian communities in the Holy Land," shown by Pontiffs down the centuries and defines as "memorable" the "countless interventions of the Servant of God John Paul II" on the question.
The Cardinal quotes the current Pope and recalls the audience for participants in the meeting of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (ROACO) last July 23, when Benedict XVI stressed that "certain positive signs in recent months strengthen the hope that the day of reconciliation between the various communities working in the Holy Land will not be long in coming; for this let us unceasingly pray with trust."
"This is the responsibility incumbent upon the Universal Church," the Cardinal states, "with regard to the Mother Church of Jerusalem, 'to which', as the Pope said, 'all Christians have an unforgettable obligation.'"