Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, sent a letter addressed to bishops around the world regarding the upcoming ‘Collecta pro Terra Sancta’, the collection for the communities of faithful and places in the Holy Land. The collection takes place every year on Good Friday.
In his letter, Cardinal Sandri reflected on the current tensions in the Middle East, where Christians of the Holy Land have faced increasing persecution and death.
“Presently, there are millions of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, where the roar of arms does not cease and the way of dialogue and concord seems to be completely lost,” Cardinal Sandri wrote.
“If the Christians of the Holy Land are encouraged to resist, to the degree possible, the understandable temptation to flee, the faithful throughout the world are asked to take their plight to heart. Also involved are brothers in Christ who belonged to various confessions: an ecumenism of blood which points toward the triumph of unity: ‘ut unum sint’!”
Cardinal Sandri went on to say that this year’s collection presents an opportunity “to become pilgrims in faith” as well as a way of promoting dialogue through peace, prayer “and sharing of burdens.” Among the territories that will benefit from the ‘Collecta Pro Terra Sancta’ are Jerusalem, Palestine and Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
A document prepared by the Custodian of the Holy Land lists the works carried out as a result of the 2014 Collecta. The emergency funds were distributed mostly in Syria and Iraq. Assistance was also provided for artisanal enterprises in Jordan; funding was given for parish communities, the reconstruction and restoration of places of interest and medical assistance in Bethlehem; and apartments were built in Jerusalem for poor families and young couples who wish to remain in the Holy Land.
The remaining funds were used for projects involving schools, universities and cultural works, through the Custodian of the Holy Land, such as the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Media Centre, and for the maintenance and restoration of the Holy Places.