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Pope Sends Money to Catholics in Holy Land

November 09, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II is sending emergency aid to the dwindling Catholic population of the Holy Land with an appeal to all Christians to remain like heroic missionaries in "these tormented places," the Vatican said this week.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, will distribute $400,000 to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, Caritas and Catholic communities.

The funds were collected in an appeal the pope made after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon for aid to victims of war and terrorism.

"The support is offered to better the conditions of life and work in their land in order that it may be a fertile seed of humanity and peace," the council said.

"The continued acts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis represent, unfortunately, a persistent threat to the life of all the inhabitants of the region," the council said.

In addition, it said, "Houses of hospitality for pilgrims are empty while unemployment in Bethlehem has hit some 80% of the population. One can well understand, therefore, the desire of many to leave the country."

But the council warned that a Christian exodus would seriously endanger the safeguarding of holy places. It said the Palestinian occupation of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem for 39 days last April and May "gave further proof of how necessary is the presence of Christians in the Holy Land."

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