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LENT 2007

Your Excellency,

As is my annual practice, and by virtue of Papal directive, I now turn to all of the Pastors of the universal Church, with a view to seek assistance for the needs of a portion of the Church which is both forever old and forever young. I refer to Catholic Christians living in the Holy Land.

The first historical reference to this Collection for the Holy Land takes us back to the pontificate of Pope Martin V. In 1421 he promulgated norms to regulate the gathering of offerings on the Holy Land’s behalf. This collection has since been marked by Pontifical approval; was confirmed by diverse succeeding Pontiffs, and was applied directly and with utmost solicitude for the aid of the Christian community in the Land of the Lord

The Congregation for Eastern Churches shares in this concern, and stands always in solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land and those throughout the Middle East. We are aware, too, that the political and economic crisis of this area has not yet been resolved and shows evidence each day of unspeakable suffering. This situation impresses upon all of us that there is an absolute and urgent need to support our brothers and sisters in this land, and to do so in every possible manner. In particular, we continually invoke upon them that peace which comes only from the Most High.

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, recalled this obligation during his visit to Turkey: “We ask peace for Jerusalem and for the entire world ( …). From this Anatole Peninsula, the natural bridge between continents, first of all we invoke peace and reconciliation upon those people who live in that Land which we call Holy, and which is home to Christians, Jews and Muslims. It is the Land of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and which is destined to welcome a people who become a blessing for all the nations (Gn 12, 1-3)”.

The responsibility is grave which devolves upon the universal Church with regards to the Mother Church of Jerusalem. Therefore, all Catholics of the world must offer their prayer and expressions of solidarity, including those economic, to the Christian community of that same blessed Land. Despite their countless difficulties, these Christians offer day by day, and in silence, an authentic witness to the Gospel.

Recently, Jerusalem hosted an important International Congress of Commissioners of the Holy Land. The purpose was to reflect upon the Commissioner in terms of their fundamental role. The Congress also dealt with concrete questions pertinent both to the issue of the Custody and to that of the Collection. This Congregation also sent representation, with a view to nurture ties among those who are profoundly dedicated in their commitment to support the Holy Land.

It is appropriate also to acknowledge the Latin Patriarch, the Custody (considered to be the Order of Friars Minor’s “pearl of the missions”), the Eastern Catholic Churches and all of the institutes and organizations operative in this territory. To each I express profound gratitude. It is gratitude which is filled with confidence that the particular Churches of the world will continue to respond favorably to this vital cause of the Holy Land.

The heartfelt appreciation of the Holy Father is also extended. He assures his prayer and blessing for all of the Churches and upon all of the benefactors of the Land of the Lord.

Further, please find enclosed informative documents which indicate those works which were realized because of the 2006 Collection, and these as associated with the Custody and with our Congregation (encl. 1-2). Again, I take this opportunity to convey to you and to your cooperators in ecclesial service my thankfulness and that of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. And, in a spirit of mutual prayer, I share in an invocation which affirms that the Lord protects His disciples in that Land which has been sanctified by the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Redemption.

With most cordial and fraternal regards, I remain,


Ignace Moussa Card. Daoud
Patriarch emeritus of Antioch of the Syrians, Prefect


Antonio Maria Vegliò,



The Congregation for Eastern Churches receives donations directly from the Apostolic Nunciatures. These are then distributed on the basis of a percentage system. Such includes both ordinary and extraordinary subsidies for the various ecclesiastical districts, monies for Religious Orders and for other ecclesiastical juridic persons in the following countries: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and particularly in Israel and in Palestine.

Special attention is directed to scholastic institutions, such as Bethlehem University and the diverse levels of Catholic Schools. This category likewise includes expenses related to Jerusalem’s Secretariat of Solidarity.

There are also students who receive allocations because of the Congregation’s involvement with the U.C.S.E.I. (Central Office for Foreign Students in Italy). As well, grants are given on behalf of priests coming from the aforementioned countries and who are enrolled in the Pontifical Universities.

The Congregation exercises great care in promoting the favorable disposition of the bishops of the world towards the Holy Land, by no means being indifferent to the economic obligations which are involved in the Congregation’s commitment, while also being diligent in the collection and distribution of donations. The Congregation provides careful oversight concerning the process of handling the Collection and gives assurance that this process is in keeping with the proper aims as set forth by the Holy Father.


Franciscan Fathers

Summary Report 2005-2006

A. Projects for Holy Land Places

1. Milk Grotto Old Chapel - Bethlehem

A. Milk Grotto, old building

Project Status: Ongoing.

An underground old Grotto built inside natural rock. Major works are renovation of old stones, tiles and rocks to facilitate the grotto for receiving pilgrims and visitors.

Total area of building: 285 sq. m.

B. Milk Grotto, New Chapel

Project Status: Ongoing, Expected Opening: December 2006

A new two floors Chapel connected with landscaping and external covered walk ways and areas for prayers, services and masses to pilgrims and locals as well.

Total Area: 988.59 sq. m.

C. Milk Grotto, Nun’s Residence

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: May 2007

Modifying the existing rooms, adding 4 bedrooms and its facilities. The new community of sisters will serve the old Milk Grotto and new chapel.

Total area of project: 262.42 sq. m.

2. Shepherd’s Field Retaining Wall – Beit Sahour

Project Status: Completed, Completion Date: April 2006

Constructing retaining walls with average Height 4m. with wire fence for Northern and Eastern Boarders of the Shepherd’s Field Land to protect the archeological site and preserve the property.

Total length of Wall: 330 Meter Run

3. St. John Lodge – Ein Karem

Project Status: Completed as of August 2006

Reinforcing the building foundation, renovation and restoration works to serve as a lodge for pilgrims in the Holy Land.

Total area of Building: 733 sq. m.

4. St. John of the Desert Convent – Ein Karem

A. Construction of Retaining Wall & Sewage line

Project Status: Completed as of June 2005

Retaining wall to support the boundaries in St. John of the Desert lands and to provide a parking area at the same time; in addition to constructing 2 sewage pits.

B. Boundary Wall Project to protect and preserve the property.

Project Status: Design Phase.

5. St. Peter Monastery - Jaffa

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: June 2007

Renovation and restoration for the monastery and shrine old buildings, plus applying cathodic protection for steel reinforcement to preserve the building and protect from corrosion by the sea.

6. St. Joachim & Anne Convent – Sephoris

Project Status: Completed, Completion Date: April 30, 2006

Renovation of the existing building for a new religious community which will serve this shrine.

7. St. Peter’s Church & Sacristy - Tiberias

Project Status: Completed.

The work consisted of water & humidity isolation and casting a new concrete slab over the roof connecting the Church & Sacristy, which was cracked and to remedy water infiltration, and to protect the church from further damages.

8. Wedding Church– Cana of Galilee

A. Chapel New Concrete Roof

Project Status: Completed as of October 2006

B. Chapel New Tile Roof / Project Status: Completed

C. Convent Main Courtyard & Garden / Project Status: Completed

D. Church Playground & Parking Lot/ Project Status: Completed, June 2006

E. Church Backyard Border Wall/ Project Status: Completed, April 2006

F. Sisters House - 3rd Floor Renovation – Cana of Galilee

Project Status: Completed as of August 2006

B. Social and Charitable Projects

9. St. Catherine Housing Buildings A & B - Bethlehem

Project Status: Completed as of October 2006

Housing project consists of 24 apartments to provide residence for poor Christian families, work opportunity, to limit emigration by Christian families and integrate the church with congregation

10. Catholic Action Sport Center- Bethlehem

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: March 2007

The Complex consists of 3 floors with parking, halls and change rooms, Basketball Court, facilities & Stadium, which will serve as the first international standard sport center for the benefit of youth and for social activities.

Total area of Building: 4,000 sq. m.

11. Terra Santa Girls School / New Floor -Bethlehem

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: June 2006

Building new floor, plus a laboratory and new classroom so as to add more facilities and increase the teaching standards of the school.

Total area of Building: 297 sq. m.

12. Terra Santa Boys School- Bethlehem

Project Status: Completed as of September 2006

Renovation and enlargement of existing rooms on basement floor so as to have new 6 classrooms, teachers’ rooms with toilet units to accommodate an increasing number of students.

Total area of Building: 475 sq. m.

13. Media Center at Terra Santa College - Jerusalem

Project Status: Completed as of October 2006

Rehabilitation & renovation works and creating a media center with an equipped lecture hall to be used for Christian TV stations and to broadcast relevant enlightenment programs.

Total Area: 406 sq. m.

14. Franciscan Guesthouse for Volunteers – Nazareth

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: June 30, 2007

Modification, preservation & renovation works for a unique and historical building, to preserve the building and provide a place for volunteers who will help to serve the Basilica of Annunciation.

15. St. Francis Home for Elderly – Nazareth

Project Status: Ongoing, Completion Date: December 2006

The project includes, providing: fifteen double bedrooms and two single bedrooms, Halls, shelter and other facilities, including medical equipment & furniture, so as to provide a decent home for elderly and for their appropriate care.

16. Parish Center – Nazareth

Project Status: Not started yet.

The project consists of building a parish center for parish and social activities for the community in Nazareth City.

17. Jericho School

Due to the relatively distant geographical location from other West Bank cities, and due to the difficult political situation, Jericho City is in dire need of local schools. The existing school has no secondary section and is too small to satisfy the needs. Thus, the Custody decided to contribute to this educational necessity.

November 2006