The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, appeals to the faithful around the world to support Christians in the Holy Land.
By Christopher Wells
As the annual collection for the Holy Land approaches, Pope Francis has called on the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches “to revive the invitation to solidarity with the Christian community of the Holy Land.”
In a letter addressed to the Bishops throughout the world, the Prefect for the Dicastery, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, recalls the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey, and was felt as far away as Jerusalem.
“The ravages of the long war [in Syria] and the recent earthquake have once again laid bare the fragility of the securities to which humanity rests its hope,” the Archbishop writes, “and make us feel more strongly the desire to take root in the Rock of God’s fidelity in the Pasch of Christ, dead and risen.”
Recalling the desacration of an image of Christ earlier this year in the Church of the Flagellation in Jerusalem, Archbishop Gugerotti says, “that mutilated Crucifix invites us to recognize the pain of so many of our brothers and sisters who have seen the bodies of their loved ones tortured under the rubble or hit by bombs.”
He continues, “We are called to walk the way of the Cross hand in hand iwh them, knownig that, in every age, in each sepulchre, just like that of the Basilica of the Anastasis in the Holy City, Is not the last word on the life of man.”
Sources of hope
The Prefect praises the work of the Franciscans of the Holy Land and others who provide aid for the suffering, while remaining “sources of hope” by caring for those mose in need.
He notes that, in the wake of the earthquake, “the universal Church and all humanity have once again shown themselves attentive to this emergency, coming to the aid of those afflicted by this natural catastrophe.”
And he goes on to explain that the material support provided by Christians – with historic roots in the collection taken up by St Paul for the Church of Jerusalem – helps keep alive the memory of Christianity’s origins.
“The Church spread throughout the world with the preaching of the Apostles, and each of us through Baptism, has become a stone called to remain united to the foundation, which is Christ the Lord, in order to construct a spiritual building.”
Pope’s gratitude for Catholic generosity
Concluding his letter, Archbishop Gugerotti invites the Bishops, and all the faithful, to be generous in this Good Friday collection for the Holy Land, and expressing the gratitude of Pope Francis to all those around the world who “help to achieve this annual pilgrimmage to the sources of Christian existence.”
The annual collection “Pro Terra Sancta” is an initiative of the Pope’s “to maintain a stong bond between the faithful around the world and the Holy Places. The Collection supports the work of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in preserving the Sacred Places and promoting the Christian presence in the Holy Land; and also provides support for the Dicastery’s aid to the Eastern Churches in the region, through the formation of clergy and religious, educational and cultural activites, and direct support for the Churches.