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Vatican’s Good Friday Holy Land Collection to Aid Humanitarian Efforts in Gaza

Posted on March 16, 2024 in: News

Vatican’s Good Friday Holy Land Collection to Aid Humanitarian Efforts in Gaza

This year’s Vatican financial appeal for the Holy Land highlights the urgent humanitarian crisis facing the beleaguered population in Gaza and the pope’s plea for peace. 

“The outbreak of the war in Gaza, after the events of Oct. 7, paralyzed the Holy Land. The lack of pilgrims and tourists has put thousands of families in difficulty,” Cardinal Claudio Gugerotti, prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, said in a letter released March 8.

The Vatican has overseen the “Pro Terra Sancta” fund, or the Pontifical Collection for the Holy Land, since 1974, when Pope Paul VI, in his apostolic exhortation Nobis in Animo, designated Good Friday as the day for the collection to be taken up by parishes around the world. This year Good Friday falls on March 29. U.S. Catholics can donate online or at their parishes. 

Typically, 65% of the funds collected are earmarked for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which has maintained the holy places of Christianity in the region for more than 800 years. The Franciscan Custody also uses the funds for humanitarian and social activities, including help in defraying “the health costs of families and for their basic necessities” as well as providing housing for needy people and young families who “pay symbolic rents.” 

The remaining 35% is given to the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches to support seminarians and priests as well as educational and cultural activities.

According to last year’s summary report, the Pontifical Collection raised the equivalent of just over $7 million, of which about $3.7 million was used to support the formation of seminarians and religious brothers and sisters. Another roughly $2.5 million was allocated for educational activities, which include the academic formation of “almost 3,300 young people, mostly Palestinian Muslims,” at Bethlehem University in the West Bank, run by the De La Salle Brothers. 

This year’s appeal comes against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which has had a devastating effect on the civilian population. 

“With the breaking out of the way the aid has been intensified in order to support the basic and primary needs of the population exhausted by the bombardments and overcrowded within the compound of the buildings of the parish,” the summary report stated. 

“Pope Francis has never ceased to express his closeness to all those affected by the conflict in the Holy Land,” Cardinal Gugerotti wrote. “The Holy Father intends to carry out a project with humanitarian purposes in Gaza or the West Bank, which can help the population resume a more dignified life and create job opportunities once the war is over.” 

The Pontifical Collection provides community aid and assistance for parochial activities for Holy Family Parish, the only Roman Catholic parish in Gaza. 

According to the summary report, beneficiaries included 135 persons who are part of the Holy Family Parish community, as well as “600 persons who became homeless within the parish at the beginning of the war.” 

The Pontifical Collection, in collaboration with Caritas and the Latin Patriarchate, also has provided aid for 33 children suffering epidermolysis bullosa — a group of rare inherited diseases that causes the skin to blister — in the Gaza Strip through the “Butterfly Program.”

Gaza is one of the poorest and most densely populated areas of Palestine. Since the outbreak of the war more than 30,000 civilians have been killed in the enclave, according to the Hamas-run health ministry

By Matthew Santucci


This article was originally published on March 12, 2024 by Catholic News Agency.





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