VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy Land belongs to everyone, and is like a family home that all need to collaborate in maintaining, said the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.
And the phenomenon of emigration among Eastern-rite Christians worries the Holy See, and in particular Benedict XVI, affirmed Cardinal-designate Leonardo Sandri, who will receive a red hat in the Nov. 24 consistory.
In an interview granted to L’Osservatore Romano last Saturday, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the prefect said, “The Holy Land is everyone’s land. It is the family from which we come. It’s the home that has to be maintained and loved.”
The phenomenon of migration “is a real challenge at present. We are worried, as is the Pope. People uprooted from their original traditions run the risk of losing the deep religious values that guided their lives as individuals and communities,” he affirmed.
In this context, the dicastery is attentive “to the Vatican institutions entrusted with the pastoral care of migrants and seeks to awaken a sense of responsibility about this irrepressible phenomenon in the ecclesial communities of origin and destination,” the prefect said.
Cardinal-designate Sandri explained that his congregation supports the pastors of local Churches entrusted with the care of migrants, and also encourages the establishment of structures that can meet people in their own rites.
“But it also makes an effort,” he pointed out, “to raise awareness in the entire Catholic community,” so that, “with due prudence, they may be welcoming and capable of involving public institutions to address the root of the problem.”
And the root lies in the “lack of peace, because of which, many large Eastern regions suffer greatly,” the prelate contended.
The Vatican congregation also gives priority to charitable aid sent to these regions, the prefect affirmed.
“Order and equity in gathering and distributing goods stimulates the growth of the already praiseworthy charity directed toward the holy places,” confirmed Cardinal-designate Sandri.
The prefect encouraged the Church to help the Holy Land, particularly by going there on pilgrimage. “May all desire to help that land that Pope Benedict XVI […] called ‘the silent witness of the earthly life of Christ.'”
Still, he said, “the first charity continues to be, in whatever case, invoking God to end all violence.”
Pope Benedict XV (Bishop of Rome from 1914 to 1922) founded what would later be called the Congregation for Eastern Churches “to clearly show that the Church of Christ is not Latin, Greek, or Slavic, but catholic,” and that “it doesn’t admit discriminations among her children,” Cardinal-designate Sandri explained.
The papal initiative immediately took on also the form of an institute, “so those in the East could deepen in the knowledge of Eastern traditions and make them know to the Latin world,” he added.
“The congregation has remained faithful to the papal mandate,” Cardinal-designate Sandri said. “Respecting the place of the individual Churches, it has promoted pastoral, liturgical and disciplinary life.”
The Pontifical Oriental Institute “has given necessary cultural help, focusing on the formation of future pastors, consecrated persons and lay educators.”