Cardinal encourages generosity in Good Friday collection for Holy Land

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church’s annual Collection for the Holy Land helps maintain Christian sites in the Holy Land, provides care for aged religious who spent their lives ministering in the land of Jesus and supports projects that help native Christians remain and thrive in the region.

Cardinal Luigi Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, appealed to bishops around the world to encourage parishes in their dioceses to support the collection, which traditionally is taken up during Good Friday services.

The Catholic communities in the Holy Land face serious problems; “the first is the absence of peace,” the cardinal said in his letter, which was published in Italian in the March 25 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. In the past year, he said, “the joy of Christmas was wounded by the violent resurgence of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. Among the numerous victims were many completely innocent children.”

Pope Benedict XVI is among the first “to constantly comfort the Christians and all inhabitants of the Holy Land with words and gestures of extraordinary care,” the cardinal said, and “his desire to go on pilgrimage in the footsteps of Jesus” is a clear sign of how important the Holy Land is to the church.

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