I wish to turn to you once more on behalf of the Holy Land, where during modern times much attention is being devoted by the media of social communications, as well as from within the very heart of the entire Church. There is concern due to the unfortunate situation which has befallen the Holy Land's inhabitants. This Dicastery remains attentive to the plight of the Christian community, a community which continually diminishes because of the absence of peace and of stability. Given the ongoing needs of this community, it must appeal again and again for help from each of our Dioceses and from all of our Ecclesiastical Institutions.
The annual Good Friday Collection, as it has become known, aims to promote among the Christian faithful a love for the Land of the Lord. For the Church to survive there it must rely upon a loving and nurturing solidarity on the part of each Christian; a solidarity which bears witness to faith in him who was born in that Land, who preached the Gospel there and who also died and was resurrected there.
His Holiness Pope John Paul II continually manifests his paternal closeness to the Christians of the Holy Land. During his Audience for participants in the Assembly of the Association of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (R.O.A.C.O.), on 24 June 2004, His Holiness stressed the importance of this Collection: "An important opportunity to express this supportive communion that unites all believers in Christ is the Collection for the Holy Land, traditionally made on Good Friday in every part of the world. My venerable Predecessors have always recommended care for the Mother Church in Jerusalem to all the Christian communities. It is necessary to persevere, praying intensely for peace for the peoples who live in the Land of Jesus. May the Christians so tried by never-ending violence and many other problems that cause financial impoverishment, social conflict, and human and cultural debasement, never lack the support of the entire Catholic Church."
The Congregation for Oriental Churches, in echoing the words of His Holiness, renews the appeal on behalf of the Holy Land and where it was my joy to personally visit from 13-19 April 2004. I then made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and to the holy places of Galilee, standing in prayer on the sites of our redemption. I met with hierarchy, clergy, religious and the faithful of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, all of whom carry out their missions there. It was an unforgettable pilgrimage during which I sought "to receive and to give hope" and to offer a sign of fraternal closeness to our brothers who are so subject to the conflict which afflicts the entire region. Peace in the world passes through Jerusalem, the City of Peace, that Holy City and Capital of Monotheism, as Pope Paul VI referred to it in his Message of 25 March 1974, Nobis in Animo. With this in mind, what is anticipated is that each Christian strives on behalf of this desired peace, the special gift of God which must imbue our prayer, our efforts and our solidarity.
It is an exceptional honor for me to express to you and to all others directly cooperating in this endeavor for peace, the sincere appreciation of His Holiness. Myself and this Congregation join in this sentiment, one which embodies the gratitude of the universal Church and of the portion of the People of God who live in the Land of Our Savior.
With fraternal respect,
Ignace Moussa Card. Daoud
Antonio Maria Vegliò,