Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The "Pontifical Mission" in the Holy Land turns 70, and redefines its field of action on the occasion of its anniversary.
The organization, founded in 1949 on the initiative of Pope Pius XII with the primary intention of rescuing the Palestinian refugees after the creation of the State of Israel, is proposed today as a tool to help "the needy in the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis, of all ages and beliefs". This is reported by the official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the report of the official anniversary celebrations, hosted on Tuesday 18 June at the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem.
It was the dramatic condition of Palestinian multitudes after the proclamation of the State of Israel that aroused in Pope Pacelli the desire to create a specific ecclesial body to help them. For this reason, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (Cnewa), an agency under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, was charged with creating an institution that offered support to children, families, the sick, the elderly and exiles. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to leave their homeland and find shelter in the part of territory under the control of the then Transjordan or Egypt. On June 18, 1949, Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, Secretary of the dicastery for Eastern Churches, published the document that sanctioned the birth of the Pontifical Mission.
At the beginning, the pontifical mission dealt with assisting displaced persons and refugees. After the birth of UNRWA, it adapted its programs to work with this UN institution to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in refugee camps.
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Cyprus, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, who presided over a Eucharistic celebration in the presence of Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine and of Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land also took part in the commemoration on Tuesday.
During his homily - reports the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - the Archbishop recalled the network of ecclesial institutions operating in the region in the field of health, education and social action, stressing that in the Holy Land "it is not so much the number of Christians that counts, but the extent of their various actions". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 21/6/2019)