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Christians in Middle East face martyrdom, need help, writes Vatican cardinal

Catholic World News - March 21, 2011

Christians in the Middle East are “experiencing the actuality of martyrdom” and desperately need the support of their brothers around the world, said the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, as he introduced the annual Good Friday collection for the Church in the Holy Land.

The upheavals through the Middle East should not distract attention from the sufferings of Christians, said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. He called attention to the “tangible sorrow” of Christians living amid the “escalating violence.”

“The most disturbing sign” of the suffering endured by the Christian minority in the region, Cardinal Sandri said, “is their inexorable exodus.” He lamented “the sorrowful tendency of Christian emigration which impoverishes the entire area, draining it of the most vital forces constituted by the young generations.”

The commitment of the universal Church to support the Holy Land dates back to apostolic times, Cardinal Sandri wrote. The congregation that is taken up in Catholic churches all around the world on Good Friday is an important means of furnishing that support.

The faithful should also continue to pray and work for peace in the region, the cardinal insisted, despite all obstacles. Christians must “never resign ourselves to the absence of peace,” he wrote.

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