Here below is an example of the letters sent by Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, to the presidents of bishops conferences, with an appeal to help Christians in the Holy Land:
Prot.N. (1) 973/2014
November 5, 2014
<p>His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square
London SW1V 1BX
Reference: “Keep Christian Families in the Holy Land”
It was my pleasure to meet you during the Synod. Truly the atmosphere was of friendship and ecclesial communion with everyone around the Holy Father. As a “family of Bishops,” we spoke freely about our concerns, about the many issues and challenges faced by families around the world. It was a grace-filled gathering!
I was moved by the apparent concern of Pope Francis and many of you, for the fate of the Christian communities in the Middle East especially in the Holy Land. I appreciated the Holy Father calling all the Nuncios of the Middle East to meet with him. He listened attentively to their narratives about the reality of our situation in the region.
For the first time in the history of the Church, the Patriarchs of the Middle East were invited to participate in the Consistory with you and all the Bishops, Cardinals and the Roman Curia.
You may remember that in my intervention, I have proposed a number of initiatives and appealed for solidarity that we may be able to encourage Christian families to remain in the Holy Land. In more concrete terms, it is assisting them, especially young couples to acquire a house that they can consider their own home where they can nurture their children in a wholesome family environment. To achieve this goal my proposal was to buy houses and parcels of land in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
It is in this context that I ask for your support and consider a proposal about the possibility for each diocese in your country to buy a house in Bethlehem or Jerusalem for our Christian families. The houses are between $200,000 to $1.5 million, the higher range is in Jerusalem. This is just a one-time request for assistance. Two or more dioceses can jointly acquire a house or a piece of land where a house can be built.
For the Christians in the Holy Land, house and land means identity, empowerment, and an antidote to emigration. It has been a trepidation that we are not able to fund this project while we watch houses and properties around us being acquired or seized by Muslims in Bethlehem and the Israelis in Jerusalem who have the financial resources or other means to do so. It is disheartening to see the change in ownership of properties happening before our eyes and we are unable to do something for our Christians. We all know and are aware of the rapidly diminishing Christian population in the Holy Land.
It will be my pleasure to welcome you to the Latin Patriarchate in the future to visit the houses that your dioceses will have acquired and introduce you the Christian families, that with your generosity can remain in the Holy Land.
I express my profound gratitude for your solidarity. Be assured of my prayers for you and the faithful that our loving Lord has entrusted to your care and as you face the many challenges in the Church in your country today. In the words of Pope Francis – “Let us keep marching forward; let us give Him everything, allowing Him to make our efforts bear fruit in His good time.”
In Christ Our Savior, Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch[Courtesy of Patriarch Twal]