Cardinal Lauds Seminarians Ready to Sacrifice

Order Begins Week to Consider Aid to Holy Land

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ROME, DEC. 1, 2008 ( Life for Palestinian Christians is ever more stressful, but seminarians there are making the necessary sacrifices for their formation, says the leader of a group that seeks to aid the Church in the Holy Land.

Cardinal John Foley, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, affirmed this today in an address which marked the beginning of a week-long planning session for the order. This consulta, which takes place every five years, will conclude Friday with a papal audience.

The cardinal welcomed the knights and ladies of the order: «I am truly honored to be with you in reflecting on how we can help more effectively and more extensively our fellow Christians in the Holy Land and on how we can thus deepen our spiritual lives in union with Jesus Christ whose life, death and resurrection, in the land we seek to serve, made it truly holy.»

This chivalric order seeks to form in its members the spirit and ideal of the Crusades from which it originated. This includes preserving the faith in the Middle East and defending the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

Speaking of his own recent visit to the Holy Land, Cardinal Foley highlighted «the difference which our order makes in the Holy Land in the number and quality of the schools, parishes and charitable institutions which we help to support.»

He gave particular mention to the seminary in Beit Jala that receives support from the order. He said, «I was very favorably impressed not only by the quality of the clergy of the Latin Patriarchate but also by the quality and spirituality of the seminarians, many of whom make great sacrifices to continue their priestly studies, especially since many of them are unable to return home during holiday periods, because of restrictions on their mobility imposed by Israeli authorities.»

Since his first visit to the Holy Land in 1965, «the situation of our fellow Christians has become ever more stressful,» said the cardinal. «Especially in the Palestinian territories, their opportunities for housing, for employment, for travel, and even for access to their land have become increasingly more difficult.»

Cardinal Foley expressed his hope for the consulta to draw out ideas for helping «the descendants of the original Christians in the land made holy by the presence of Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.»

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