Vatican Official Urges Support for Mideast Christians on Good Friday

Vatican Official Urges Support for Mideast Christians on Good Friday

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christians in the Middle East, particularly those who have been forced from their homes by violence and persecution, need the support of the Catholic Church, a Vatican official said. “Let us show them concretely our closeness, through our constant prayer and through our monetary aid,” said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. Such support is especially key now that the Ninevah Plain in Iraq has been liberated from Islamic State and “most Iraqi Christians and Syrians want to return to their own land where their houses were destroyed, with schools, hospitals and churches devastated. Let us not leave them alone,” he said in a letter sent to bishops around the world. The Vatican released a copy of the letter March 12. In the letter, the cardinal urged Catholics around the world to give to the annual collection for the Holy Land on Good Friday or on the date established by their local bishops’ conference. The collection was established in 1618 by Pope Paul V to support Eastern-rite churches in communion with Rome and maintenance of holy sites under Catholic care in the Holy Land. He wrote that the traditional collection is a way for Catholics worldwide “to be one with our brethren in the Holy Land and the Middle East.”