Vatican Cardinal to Catholics: This year’s Good Friday collection is vital for Christians in the Holy Land
The letter was dated Good Friday 2021, which falls on April 2, and signed by Sandri and Bishop Giorgio Demetrio Gallaro, respectively prefect and secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
The Holy See has overseen the Church’s annual collection for the Holy Land since 1974, when Saint Pope Paul VI established Good Friday as the ordinary day to be taken up by parishes and bishops around the world.
The collection is traditionally shared, 65% going to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which has maintained the holy places of Christianity in the region for over 800 years.
The remaining 35% is donated to the Congregation for the Churches of the East to support seminarians and priests, as well as educational and cultural activities.
Along with the letter, the Vatican released a detailed description of how the proceeds from the annual fundraiser have helped Christians in the Holy Land in 2019-2020.
The Congregation received $ 9.7 million from the Holy Land collection in 2020, funding educational institutions such as the Pontifical Oriental Institute and the University of Bethlehem, which has nearly 3,300 students, as well as schools in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Some $ 2.4 million was spent in extraordinary aid to countries such as Syria and Lebanon, while $ 500,000 funded 303 projects in 24 countries linked to the coronavirus crisis.
Sandri described 2020 as “a year of trial” for the Christian minority in the Middle East.
“In 2020, Christians in these lands suffered from an isolation that made them feel even more distant, cut off from vital contact with brothers in various countries of the world,” he said.
“They suffered from the loss of work, due to the absence of pilgrims, and the resulting difficulty in living with dignity and providing for their families and children. In many countries, the persistence of war and sanctions worsened the effects of the pandemic. “
The Holy Land collection was moved in 2020 from Good Friday to September 13, due to the suspension of public masses in many places due to COVID-19.
The cardinal explained that last year’s collection “had failed, due to the additional difficulties associated with carrying it out in many countries”.
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In a report on its activities in 2019-2020, the Custody of the Holy Land noted the strain on its finances.
He said: “At this point, we have been without pilgrims since the end of February 2020. This means serious economic difficulties for the local Christian communities, for the families of our Christian faithful, and also for the Custody itself. . “
She added that postponing the collection meant she was “still quantifying the outcome” and did not know when the resources would be available.
Using the official Latin title of the collection, Sandri wrote: “This year’s May collection pro Terra Sancta to be an opportunity for everyone not to ignore the difficult situation of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Places but rather to lighten their burdens.