The president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” is visiting the Holy Land to express Benedict XVI’s closeness to the Christian communities and to give them a gift in his name.

The president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” is visiting the Holy Land to express Benedict XVI’s closeness to the Christian communities and to give them a gift in his name.

Archbishop Paul Cordes’ trip started Wednesday and ends next Tuesday. A communiqué issued by “Cor Unum” today explained that the monetary gift was collected above all by the faithful of the German dioceses of Munich, Regensburg and Nassau, on the occasion of the Pope’s pastoral visit to Bavaria last September.

The Vatican communiqué explained: “The collection of funds was well supported and reached the sum of €1 million [$1.3 million], which was sent to the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’ and which Archbishop Cordes will take in the Pope’s name to Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, responsible for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

“This amount of money will be totally allocated to the construction of a pastoral center in Nazareth. Situated in an area of more than 30,000 square meters, not far from the Basilica of the Annunciation, it is envisioned that the center will have extensive spaces for young people and families, as well as accommodations, rooms for meetings and catechesis, school rooms and a sports field.”

It will be a “genuine center of life and activity for Christians and a point of reference for pilgrims,” the Vatican statement added.

Land of Jesus

According to the “Cor Unum” council, “Christians in the Holy Land will feel in this way the closeness and encouragement of the whole people of God to continue their presence in the land of Jesus and to build the civilization of love, even in the face of difficulties and adversities. This is the hope that Archbishop Cordes has taken in the Pope’s name to Christians of Nazareth.”

The president of “Cor Unum” plans to visit the main sites of the Holy Land.

In Jerusalem, he will meet with Benedictines in the Dormition Abbey, with the city’s Latin patriarch, Michel Sabbah, and with the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco.

In Bethlehem, he will visit the Bet-Jala Seminary.

This Saturday the Pope’s gift will be given officially to the Custody of the Holy Land. Later, Archbishop Cordes will visit the German Benedictines of the Tabga Monastery, by the Sea of Galilee.

Finally, next Monday, Archbishop Cordes will meet with Greek-Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour, to whom he will give a donation of $50,000 for the construction of a school in the village of Mughar. The donation is the result of a recent collection in the Vatican on the occasion of the screening of the film “The Nativity Story.”

“The particularity of the school, in addition to being located in areas where Jesus’ parents lived, lies in the fact that it will receive, in the same desks, Christian, Druze and Muslim children,” explained “Cor Unum,” the Holy See’s agency in charge of promoting and coordinating the charitable action of Catholics worldwide.