Collection of Holy Friday for the Holy Land : “the urgency”
CHURCH – As is the usual practice every year, a collection for the Holy Land will take place in all Catholic Churches on Good Friday. In this very tragic period for the Middle East, the Church encourages the faithful to generously support the local communities and the maintenance of the Holy Places. Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine, emphasizes the particular “urgency” of the collection for 2015.
Over the last year, and since his trip to the Holy Land in May 2014, Pope Francis increased the gestures and appeals in favor of Christians in this part of the world, “whose sufferings cry out to God.”
In a letter to Bishops all over the world, the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, presented the situation in Iraq and Syria, where blood is shed and innocents are persecuted and killed. Iraqi and Syrian refugees now number in millions. Hundreds of thousands are now refugees in the Holy Land, especially in Jordan, which welcomed and hosts them in parishes and schools of the Latin Patriarchate, bringing about enormous and urgent needs for the diocese and its hosting institutions, like Caritas.
The collection which will take place all over the world will be earmarked to Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
Through this initiative, the Church is calls on Christians of the Holy Land to resist the temptation of emigration, showing them how the faithful from all over the world are mindful of their fate. This collection can offer Christians better living situations, to encourage them to remain on their land, through job opportunities, housing and education assistance. In his letter, Cardinal Sandri points out that the collection for the Holy Land, this year, is a precious occasion to become pilgrims of faith and promotion of dialogue through fellowship and prayer. “The small flock of Christians spread out over the Middle East areinstruments of peace, reconciliation and development, to promote dialogue and build bridges in the spirit of the Beatitudes”. Cardinal Sandri wishes that this collection receives a generous welcome from local Churches to respond to spiritual and material needs of dedicated life in the Holy Land.
Needs are more pressing this year where the region is sinking in an escalation of shocking violence and where the existence of Christians in the Middle East is at risk. “The urgency comes from the fact that the Middle East is passing through an unprecedented experience, says Bishop Shomali, where the needs are greater than ever especially for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, without overlooking destroyed churches, schools and homes. The question is to be or not to be, as Shakespeare said”.