Pope Benedict has repeatedly urged the universal Church to encourage and support Christians in the Holy Land.
One way to do this is financially through the collection traditionally taken up on Good Friday.
A letter from the prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches Cardinal Leonardo Sandri was released Monday calling on the faithful to support the initiative. The letter notes the positive effect that the Synod of Bishops and the Holy Father's visit to Cyprus had on the region last year, but adds there is still great suffering:
Christians of the East are experiencing the actuality of martyrdom and are suffering because of the instability or absence of peace. The most disturbing sign of this is their inexorable exodus.
The letter notes that the collection is "inherent in the cause of peace, of which the brothers and sisters of the Holy Land desire to be effective instruments in the hands of the Lord for the good of the whole of the East." The collection also "remains the ordinary and indispensable means of promoting the life of Christians in that beloved land."
The appeal concludes with a thank you on behalf of the Holy Father, the Latin Church and Eastern Churches in the region.
Read about the projects completed by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Order of Friars Minor in 2009-2010 here
See Cardinal Sandri's full letter below:
Remembering the Good Friday Collection means recalling a commitment that dates back to apostolic times. St Paul testifies to it in his Letter to the Christians of Galatia: they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do (2:10). And he reasserted this to the brethren of Corinth (1 Co 16; 2 Co 8-9) and of Rome: However, I am going… to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem (15,25-26).
The Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the universal Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the experience of grace and suffering that marks her journey. She wishes to recognize, first of all, the grace of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, and that of the Papal Visit to Cyprus. These events have increased the interest of the world and the return of a great number of pilgrims in the historical footsteps of the Lord Jesus. Yet also tangible is sorrow at the escalating violence to Christians in Eastern regions whose consequences are felt acutely in the Holy Land. The Christians of the East are experiencing the actuality of martyrdom and are suffering because of the instability or absence of peace. The most disturbing sign of this is their inexorable exodus.
CNS photo/Debbie Hill