03/11/2021, 17.16
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Pro-Terra Santa collection: 2020 was particularly difficult for Jerusalem

The Congregation for Eastern Churches notes that Christians in the region have lost jobs because of the absence of pilgrims. This has made living with dignity and providing for their families and children more difficult.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The pandemic has made 2020 particularly difficult for Christians living in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. In 2021, they need more than ever the support of the Catholic community, this according to the Congregation for Eastern Churches in a letter prepared for  the “Pro Terra Sancta” Collection on Good Friday, published today.

The appeal, signed by Card Leonardo Sandri and Archbishop Giorgio Demetrio Gallaro, prefect and secretary of the dicastery, notes that “In 2020, the Christians of those lands suffered an isolation that made them feel even more distant, cut off from vital contact with the brethren from various countries of the world. They suffered the loss of work, due to the absence of pilgrims, and the consequent difficulty in living with dignity and providing for their families and children. In many countries, the persistence of war and sanctions compounded the effects of the pandemic. In addition, part of the economic aid that the collection pro Terra Sancta guaranteed every year also fell short, due to the added difficulties involved in carrying it out in many countries.”

“May this year collection pro Terra Sancta be an opportunity for everyone not to ignore the difficult situation of our brothers and sisters of the Holy Places but rather to lighten their burdens. If this small gesture of solidarity and sharing (Saint Paul and Saint Francis of Assisi would call it ‘restitution’) fails, it will be even more difficult for many of them to resist the temptation to leave their country, more demanding to support the parishes in their pastoral and educational work and harder to sustain the social commitment to the poor and suffering.

“The sufferings of the many displaced people and refugees who have had to leave because of war call for an outstretched helping hand to pour the balm of consolation on their wounds. We must not give up on taking care of the Holy Places that are concrete proof of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the offering of His life for us and for our salvation.

“In this unusual scenario, marked by the absence of pilgrims, we feel the duty to once again make our own the words that the Apostle of the Gentiles addressed to the Corinthians two thousand years ago, inviting you to a solidarity that is not based only on philanthropy but rather on Christological motivations: “Indeed, you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: though rich, He made Himself poor for you, so that through His poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

“And after recalling the principles of equality, solidarity and the mutual exchange of material and spiritual goods, the Apostle adds words, as eloquent then as now, which do not need any comment: ‘Keep this in mind: he who sows poorly will reap poorly, and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Let each one give according to what he has decided in his heart, not with sadness or by force, because God loves those who give with joy. Moreover, God has the power to make all grace abound in you so that, always having the necessary in everything, you can generously perform all good works’ (2 Cor. 9:6-8).”

“The Collection ‘Pro Terra Sancta’ was born from the desire of the popes to maintain a strong link between all the faithful and the Holy Places. It is the main source of material support for Christian life in the Holy Land and the privileged instrument that the Church provides her children in other parts of the world to express solidarity with the ecclesial communities of the Middle East. In recent times, Saint Paul VI gave a decisive boost in favour of the Holy Land through the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Nobis in Animo’ (25 March 1974).

“Through the funds traditionally collected on Good Friday, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land is able to carry out the important mission to which it is called: preserving the Sacred Places, the stones of memory, and promoting the Christian presence, the living stones, through many pastoral, educational, welfare, health and social structures.

“The territories that benefit in various forms of support from the Collection are Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

“As a rule, the Custody of the Holy Land receives 65% of the Collection, while the remaining 35% goes to the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, which uses it for the formation of candidates for the priesthood, the support of the clergy, educational activities, cultural formation and subsidies to the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions in the Middle East.”

“In 2020, the collection raised US$ 7,165,603.58. Some of the funds were devolved to the COVID-19 emergency. “Thanks also to the active collaboration of various catholic aid agencies which are part of ROACO (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches), 303 projects were financed in 24 countries under the jurisdiction of this Dicastery, without counting the support given to priests and religious, for a total of US$ 9,574,907.74.”

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