Circular Letter on the
"Collection for the Holy Land"
It has been the earnest desire of the Roman Pontiffs that the Universal Church should observe Good Friday as a day of prayer and almsgiving on behalf of the Catholic Community in the Holy Land and for the maintenance of the sacred sites of our redemption in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul V in his Breve "Coelestis Regis" of January 22, 1618 for the first time established this objective and Benedict XIV confirmed it with the Apostolic Breve "In supreme militantis Ecclesiae" of January 7, 1746. The most recent papal document, which was dedicated exclusively to the Holy Land and to the Collection for the same, was the Apostolic Exhortation "Nobis in animo" by Pope Paul VI of March 25, 1974 (cf. AAS 56 (1974) 177-188). Faithful to these papal pronouncements and to its spirit of solidarity throughout the centuries, the Catholic community has always shown its care and concern for the Church at Jerusalem and has appreciated the "unique" testimony which this Church is called to give before the world.
The present dramatic situation requires us to give even greater attention to this Church also in material terms. Under the circumstances the Christians in the Holy Land are in a particular way prone to feel isolated and abandoned. That is why they need to experience the evangelical charity, which binds us all together in Christ, and the support of the whole Church, which connects us more closely to our Christian roots.
The Congregation for the Oriental Churches has been given, by pontifical mandate, the responsibility to coordinate this support of the Universal Church and to make it effective and fair. Catholic communities and organizations attend to the ordinary and special needs of the great number of schools and educational or cultural institutions, hospitals, health care facilities and centres for social assistance as well as the many places of pastoral and spiritual significance in the Holy Land. All of these are direct expressions of the life of the Christian community and are vital for the custody of the sacred sites of our Christian faith.
Therefore, I would like to renew, with a heavy, but hopeful heart, the annual appeal to all the dioceses of the world "On behalf of the Holy Land" echoing the many pronouncements with which the Holy Father continues to show his paternal concern for the Church in the Land of the Lord Jesus.
It is my great honour to extend to all bishops and to their co-workers in the ecclesial ministry the heartfelt gratitude of His Holiness for the admirable kindness shown over the years in the sure and certain hope that this kindness will continue to be shown in the future.
With prayerful best wishes
Sincerely in Our Lord,
a Ignace Moussa Card. Daoud
a Antonio Maria Vegliò