We need to acknowledge that we are constantly tempted to ignore others ...
Don’t ignore Christians in the Holy Land, urges Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, because the pandemic has left them in a dire situation and dependent on the Church’s support for survival.
This small Christian community that lives where Jesus did “seeks to be the salt, light and leaven of the Gospel,” the cardinal said in his appeal. But this last year, even more than the rest of us, “the Christians of those lands suffered an isolation that made them feel even more distant, cut off from vital contact with the brethren from various countries of the world.”
They suffered the loss of work, due to the absence of pilgrims, and the consequent difficulty in living with dignity and providing for their families and children. In many countries, the persistence of war and sanctions compounded the effects of the pandemic. In addition, part of the economic aid that the collection pro Terra Sancta guaranteed every year also fell short, due to the added difficulties involved in carrying it out in many countries.
Cardinal Sandri offered for reflection the “blunt question” that Pope Francis proposed in Fratelli Tutti, in his meditation on the Good Samaritan. The pope
encourages us to reflect on the different attitudes of the characters in the parable to overcome the indifference of those who see their brother or sister in difficulty and pass on: “Which of these persons do you identify with? This question, blunt as it is, is direct and incisive. Which of these characters do you resemble? We need to acknowledge that we are constantly tempted to ignore others, especially the weak. Let us admit that, for all the progress we have made, we are still “illiterate” when it comes to accompanying, caring for, and supporting the most frail and vulnerable members of our developed societies. We have become accustomed to looking the other way, passing by, ignoring situations until they affect us directly” (Fratelli tutti, 64).
Cardinal Sandri proposes the pro Terra Sancta collection, traditionally taken up during Holy Week, usually on Good Friday, as an opportunity for everyone to be a Good Samaritan, and “to lighten [the] burdens” of Christians in the Holy Places.
He warns that without support of the universal Church, even more Christians will be forced to leave the Middle East.
We must not give up on taking care of the Holy Places that are concrete proof of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the offering of His life for us and for our salvation.