Message of Prefect of Congregation for Eastern Churches

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2003 ( The Congregation for Eastern Churches appealed to bishops worldwide to support Christians in the Holy Land, who are in greater need than ever due to the Iraqi crisis.

Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the dicastery, said, “The Catholic community, with the fidelity of ecclesial fraternity, has always shown solicitous closeness to the Church in Jerusalem, supporting the unique testimony that the latter is called to give to the world.”

The cardinal expressed this in a letter, written in six languages, to remind the bishops that this support responds to the appeal of various popes, from Paul V in the 17th century, to John Paul II, Vatican Radio reported today.

Cardinal Daoud’s message also echoes “the innumerable pronouncements with which the Holy Father continues to show his paternal closeness to the Church living in the land of Jesus.”

The cardinal’s “heart-rending appeal” in favor of Christians of the Holy Land was made in view of Good Friday, a day traditionally dedicated to prayer and the collection of funds for the local Catholic community and the maintenance of the holy sites.

“The dramatic current situation, calls for a special effort, also in material terms,” he said. “Christians in the Holy Land, particularly tempted in the present circumstances by the feeling of isolation and abandonment, must indeed experience evangelical charity that unites us all in Christ, and the encouragement of the whole Church to remain in the original communities.”