In a letter sent to Bishops around the world, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, made an appeal for the Good Friday Collection in support of the Holy Land. The people of the Holy Land, along with with their pastors he said, “ live the mystery of Christ, Crucified and Risen for the salvation of mankind.”
“On account of its ecclesial dimension, this ancient duty is an ever gratifying opportunity. As Easter approaches, it is all the more appropriate as an expression of the faith that the Church, under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, is intensely living, on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.”
Cardinal Sandri stated that Vatican II opened the Church to the world, while maintaining the tradition that comes from the Christian origins. The Holy Land, he said, “ is the silent witness and living custodian, thanks to the Latin communities of the Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custody, as also to the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Copt and Chaldean faithful active there”.
Citing the words of Blessed John XXIII and the Servant of God Paul VI, Cardinal Sandri emphasized the cruciality of mankind’s dignity and desire for peace. The examples of past popes to present have shown the importance the Holy Land has in the Christian faith. Recalling Blessed John Paul II’s words after his visit to Israel, Cardinal Sandri stated that the late pope described his visit as “a moment of brotherhood and peace, [to be remembered] as one of the most beautiful gifts of the whole Jubilee event.”
Cardinal Sandri went on to say that the assistance that comes from the annual Good Friday collection maintains not only the Holy Sites but also the communities that dwell around them.
“Together with institutes of men and women religious, the funds collected provide immediate relief to the catastrophic consequences of war and other emergencies,” he said. “Through a qualified network of pastoral, educational and health care specialists, these resources come to the aid of families, often saving lives that have been rejected: the old, the sick, and the disabled. In addition, aid is provided to those without work and to youth in search of a brighter future. In every case, the collection seeks to build up human rights, especially the right to religious liberty.”
The prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches also applauded the ecumenical and inter-religious efforts in the region to aid in promoting peace and unity among people of all faiths in the Holy Land.
Concluding his letter, Cardinal Sandri thanked all the faithful for the support they have offered to the Holy Land with the annual collection. “These have earned the gratitude of the Supreme Pastor of the Church and ours, too, for by their faithful witness in the midst of suffering, they remind the world of the consoling promise of the Risen One,” he said.