Franciscan Friars look to postpone crucial collection for the Holy Land amid uncertainty

FRANCISCAN Friars in Jerusalem and around the world were set to postpone Good Friday collections that ordinarily went towards the upkeep of Holy Land sites amid “terrible uncertainty” caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Holy Land Commissary for Australia and Kedron parish administrator Franciscan Father Mario Debattista said the friars faced challenges from two directions.

He said the friars did not just take care of the holy sites, but also took care of local pastoral needs, seminaries, schools and social needs like displaced refugees from Syria.

“There’s going to be a knock-on effect where the need for help is going to be greater (and) the income for the sanctuaries is going to be much less,” he said.

“So they’re going to be pulled in both directions in terms of just up keeping the place and normal expenses, plus then trying to respond to local people’s needs.”

The Good Friday collection was a key source of income for the friars in Jerusalem, he said, and they particularly relied on the donations of developed western countries.

He said because of the threat of COVID-19, it was unlikely there would be a Good Friday collection at all.

In a letter to the universal church about the issue, Argentine Cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches Leonardo Sandri said the care of the sanctuaries “would be impossible” without the funds from the Good Friday collections.

Read the article by Joe Higgins in The Catholic Leader.