Archbishop Sandri: “The collection for the Holy Land is not at all outdated”

Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. ©CMC


March 27, 2022

In a letter addressed to all the bishops of the world, Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, urged them again, this year, to promote the collection for the Holy Land. It is an indispensable gesture of solidarity.

From the Vatican, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has published the Prefect’s, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri’s, annual letter to the bishops of the whole world recalling the establishment of Good Friday as the day for a collection to be taken for the Holy Land.

In the letter, which is dated Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the Cardinal recalls the two trips that the Pope made to the Near and Middle East in 2021: trips to Iraq and Cyprus and Greece, places where Francis “while the whole world was still under the influence of the pandemic, wanted to reach some of the loneliest and most suffering people.”

The Pope's actions during these trips challenge all Catholics, individuals and communities, Sandri writes, and prompt them to ask themselves: “What do I see, what do I notice? What is the extent of my vision? In Passover to which this Lenten journey leads us, which we began today, will I let the Lord visit my solitude? Will I know how to respond to the Love that comes to visit me? Will I know how to respond with love? Only love is repaid with love!”.

The letter points out that our current context reminds us that “As a man, Christ suffered and died once and for all and He can no longer die. But in his body, which is the Church, He continues to suffer, especially in the Middle East, and also in other places of the world where the freedom to live one's faith is derided and prevented.  In many cases this is done by persecution, sometimes by hostile environments, and often by globalized indifference, and by the violence of wars, which humanity unfortunately seems never to tire as evidenced in Ukraine”.

“Allow our brothers and sisters to continue to live and hope”

Looking at the Holy Land, Cardinal Sandri underlines what we have already reported several times on “For two consecutive years, the Christians of the Holy Land have celebrated Easter and Christmas in absolute isolation, without the warmth and fraternal friendship of the pilgrims who visit the Holy Places and the local communities. Families have suffered more from lack of work than from the immediate effects of the pandemic.”

The fact that the Holy Land Collection, which has come “at the express request of the Popes”, makes it even more evident that this is not “old or outdated, since it expresses above all the awareness of our roots, which are found in the proclamation of the Redemption that has spread from Jerusalem and has united us all. The gesture of offering, however small but on the part of all, like the offering of the widow, allows our brothers and sisters to continue to live and hope, to offer a living witness of the Word made flesh in the places and along the roads that have seen his presence”.

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches – who, together with the Custody of the Holy Land, manages the funds collected throughout the world through the Collection – asks bishops to give “new vigor and new life to the practice of collecting for the Holy Land”. “This is done, thanks to the Diocesan Services and Commissioners of the Holy Land of the Order of Friars Minor all over the world. Let us prepare for the collection by our witnesses of prayer or celebrations of the Way of the Cross”.

Sandri concludes: “In Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and in the shrines and monasteries, people celebrate and pray every day for the Church throughout the world. And we also are invited to remember all those who pray to the Lord for us, thanking them for this generosity, and accompanying it with a modest offering. The informative material that is disseminated each year helps us to see how charity is diffused and life is made possible by this collection.”


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