John Paul II Donates $400,000 to Holy Land

One Aim Is to Help Maintain Christian Presence

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2002 ( John Paul II has allocated $400,000 to the peoples of the Holy Land as an expression of his concern for the crisis they are enduring.

A press statement issued today by the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum» reported that the funds were the result of the generosity of people worldwide, following the papal appeal for aid to victims of war and terrorism, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Some of the funds were collected from the Day of Fasting called by the Pope last Dec. 14. All funds collected that day and on other occasions are now allocated to charitable works.

The funds will be donated on behalf of the Pope by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of «Cor Unum,» who will visit the Holy Land from Thursday to Sunday. They will be allocated particularly to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the local Caritas and a number of Catholic communities.

The statement released today explained that the «aim of this trip is not just to turn over this money. Through various meetings, the Holy Father’s envoy hopes above all to encourage Christians to remain in these battered places, as so many missionaries are already doing in such a heroic way. The support is offered to improve living and working conditions in their land so they might be a fertile seed of humanity and peace.»

«With the occupation of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which lasted 39 days, there was further proof of how necessary the presence of Christians in the Holy Land is,» the statement said.

«The continuous acts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis represent, unfortunately, a persistent threat to the lives of all the inhabitants of the region,» it said. «Hospitality homes for pilgrims are empty, while in Bethlehem about 80% of the population is unemployed.

«The desire of many people to leave the country is well understood. The safekeeping of the holy places would be in serious danger if Christians were to abandon them.»

Archbishop Cordes will visit Bethlehem on Friday to inaugurate the project for the construction of new homes and to visit the Holy Family and Ephata hospitals.

On Saturday the archbishop will visit Jericho, and on Sunday he will meet in Jerusalem with Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah and Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

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