As the Vatican’s annual Good Friday Collection approaches, the head of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has encouraged people to take pilgrimages to the Holy Land, in addition to supporting the local Christian communities through prayer and monetary assistance.

“All of us are invited to resume pilgrimage to the Holy Land, because of the knowledge, and the living experience of the places of our redemption,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri wrote in a letter published March 12.

“Walking in the steps of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the disciples, helps us to deepen our faith and also to understand the context in which Christians live in the Holy Land,” he said, noting that pilgrimages are also a source of income for thousands of families.

As it did last year, the Good Friday Collection will benefit people in the Holy Land, as well as Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Turkey, and Iraq.

In a letter accompanying the announcement, Cardinal Sandri explained the importance of prayer and monetary support for the Holy Land, stating that unless we take on the “spirit of Christ, who ‘emptied himself’” unto death on a cross, “the outcry of our brother [will remain] unheard and the faces of thousands of less fortunate people remain unnoticed.”
rnAmong these people are the thousands of families who have fled the war in Syria and Iraq, Sandri continued, especially children and young people, “who appeal to our generosity in order to resume their scholastic life and dream of a better future.”

He said that Lent especially is a good time to help others through works of charity, and contributing to the Good Friday Collection is one way to show solidarity and accompany our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty.

Unfortunately, from the countries of the Middle East, “the outcry of thousands of persons who are deprived of everything, at times even of their own human dignity, continues to reach us,” he said.

These cries break our hearts and invite us to embrace them “through Christian charity, a sure source of hope.”

The Good Friday Collection has been an annual tradition since its institution by Blessed Paul VI.

According to Blessed Paul VI, the collection was created “not only for the Holy Places but above all for those pastoral, charitable, educational, and social works which the Church supports in the Holy Land for the welfare of their Christian brethren and of the local communities.”

In 2017, the collection received approximately $7.2 million in benefit of the Church in the Middle East. The funds went toward education expenses for priests, seminarians, religious, and youth; support for local Churches; emergency relief; and the reconstruction of Iraq’s Nineveh Plain.