Letter from the archbishop on Collection for the Holy Land
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The season of Lent, as a journey with Christ towards the Cross the Resurrection, always reawakens our sense of solidarity with our sisters and brothers living in the holy Land. It was there that the Apostles first heard the voice of the Lord Jesus, were made partakes by grace in the Mystery of Redemption, and then to announce it with the witness of their lives. Around them the first Christian communities began to blossom, beginning from Jerusalem.
Again this year, our unity in Christ urges us to promote the Collection for the Holy Land, which will be taken up in all of our parishes on Good Friday. The Collection is still the principal revenue source which sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians, and in this way the Universal Church acknowledges its indebtedness to that Mother Church. Pope Francis confirmed this view, stating that “My thoughts turn in a special way to the holy land where Christ lived, Died and rose again. In that land … the light of faith is not extinguished, indeed it shines resplendent. It was the “light of the East” which ‘has illuminated the universal Church, from the moment when “a rising sun” appeared above us (cf. Lk 1:78): Jesus Christ, our Lord’ (Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen, N. 1.) Every Catholic therefore owes a debt of that’s to the churches that live in tat region.
Every day the Christians in various regions of the Middle East ask themselves whether they should remain or emigrate. They live in danger and often suffer violence only for the fact of professing the faith common to them and us. Every day there are brothers and sisters of ours who resist, choosing to remain in the place where God carried out in Christ the plan of universal reconciliation. From that Holy Land, in obedience to the words of Christ, the gospel has been carried to the four corners of the globe.
Nonetheless, the present situation is truly precarious. It suffices to think of the tensions between Israel and Palestine, of the unsettled situation of Egypt, of the ongoing tragedy in Syria. The burdensome situation of social upheaval, and indeed of open war, has worsened, upsetting at every level the balance in the region and pouring out on Lebanon and Jordan a flow of refugees which overwhelms the increasingly inadequate camps set up to welcome them.
We can only be stunned by the number of kidnappings and killings of Christians in Syria and elsewhere, by the destruction of churches, houses and schools. All this only increases the exodus of Christians and the scattering of their families and communities.
Thanks to the Holy Land Collection, the various Catholic communities of the Holy Land will receive a contribution with which to stay close to the poor and suffering without distinction of creed or ethnicity. Parishes will be able to keep their doors open to the needy, as will the schools, where Christians and Muslims prepare together for a future of respect and collaboration. Likewise, the hospitals, clinics and other assistance centers will be able to continue helping all in need so that, in the midst of these unsettling times, the words of Jesus will resound: “Take heart … have no fear!” (Mk. 6:50.)
With gratitude for the assistance you give our sisters and brothers through the Holy Land Collection, I am
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati