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Cardinal encourages pilgrimages to the Holy Land

Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud has called for Catholics adopt an attitude of "prudent determination" in the face of danger, and travel to the Holy Land.

He told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that trips to the Holy Land can bring hope to the Christians living there. He said Palestinian Christians are tempted to emigrate because of the violence and discrimination that surrounds them, and they "face the future with uncertainty."

He argued that the world's Christians should come to their aid, because "we must not resign ourselves to the prospect of a Holy Land without Christians."

Cardinal Moussa Daoud had been asked by Vatican Radio to comment on the annual appeal for financial help for the Church in the Holy Land, an appeal that is traditionally made during Holy Week. He replied that financial help was useful, but visits by Christians from other countries would be an even more powerful form of help.

The Syrian cardinal said that Israeli and Palestinian authorities recognise the importance of religious tourism, which furnishes a large portion of the revenue for some towns in the Holy Land. He pointed out that "for the security of pilgrims, some guarantees have been made by the parties to the conflict."

Those guarantees have not always been honoured. Vatican officials have sharply criticised the Israeli government in recent weeks for barring pilgrims from shrines on Palestinian territory - allegedly on grounds of "national security."

Prelate urges pilgrimages to the Holy Land (Catholic World News 6/4/04)

Top Clergyman Calls for Mideast 'Reason' (Associated Press/ 5/4/04)

7 Apr 2004