Wednesday, November 6, 2002

Vatican to donate $400,000 to encourage Christians to remain in Holy Land

The Vatican is giving $400,000 to Roman Catholic causes in Israel and the West Bank to try to improve life for Christians there and persuade them not to flee the ongoing fighting.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, head of Cor Unum, the Vatican's charity arm, will deliver the money and an appeal for Christians to remain in the region during a November 7-10 visit, the Vatican said Wednesday.

It's understandable why there is a desire among many to leave the country," the statement said. "The safekeeping of holy sites, however, would be seriously put in danger if Christians abandoned them."

Cordes will deliver the $400,000, as well as an appeal from Pope John Paul II to "encourage Christians to remain in these tortured places, like so many missionaries already are doing in heroic fashion," the statement said.

The money will be divided among the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Franciscan order, Caritas and various Catholic communities in the region.

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