Catholics around the world are asked to contribute to the annual Pontifical Collection benefiting the Holy Land on Good Friday, April 18.
The collection aims to promote among the Christian faithful a love of the Holy Land; supports Holy places; and assists those in the region with pastoral, charitable, educational and social works which the Church supports in the Holy Land for the welfare of their Christian brethren and of the local communities. As Catholics, our unity in Christ the Redeemer urges us to promote this initiative and fulfill the debt of the Universal Church.
“My thoughts turn in a special way to the Holy Land where Christ lived, died and rose again,” Pope Francis said to patriarchs, Archbishops, Cardinal Fathers, and Bishops in the Plenary Session of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
“In that land … the light of faith is not extinguished, indeed it shines resplendent. It is ‘the light of the East’ which ‘has illumined the universal Church, from the moment when a rising sun appeared above us (Lk 1:78): Jesus Christ, our Lord’ (Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen, n. 1). Every Catholic therefore owes a debt of thanks to the Churches that live in that region. From these Churches, we may learn, among other things, the effort of the daily exercise of the spirit of ecumenism and of interreligious dialogue.”
In a letter from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the collection is stated as being “the principal source which sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians, in response to the ardent desire of the of the Supreme Pontiffs, who, especially on the occasion of Good Friday, have always recommended concrete acts of authentic fraternal charity.”
“On Good Friday we wish to raise to the Crucified the cry for peace for Jerusalem so that the world, starting from the land of Jesus, might become the City of Peace,” said Cardinal Sandri.
Funds from past collections have been distributed to support parishes, families, schools, universities, hospitals, clinics, and cultural works, through the Custodian of the Holy Land, such as the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum in Jerusalem, and the Franciscan Media Centre. Funds also help representatives of many of the Eastern Catholic Churches – Greek-Melkite, Copt, Maronite, Syrian, Chaldean and Armenian – to assist the poor and suffering, and to keep their parish doors open. A complete report is available by clicking here.
“In this way, in a spirit of anticipation, we will be able to accompany Pope Francis who is preparing to become a pilgrim of unity and peace to the Holy Land,” Cardinal Sandri wrote. “His visit is much desired and very necessary. May it strengthen the faith of the Christians, making them ever more capable of mercy, forgiveness and love.”