Account of Pope’s Gift to the Holy Land Reported

NEW YORK – A financial accounting illustrating the details of a papal gift for charitable works in Palestine was the subject of a Vatican meeting today with Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, reported Msgr. Robert L. Stern, President of the Pontifical Mission, CNEWA’s operating agency in the Middle East.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, the College of Cardinals presented the pontiff with a gift, which he designated for the Holy Land. The pope placed €100,000 ($129,000) at the disposal of the Pontifical Mission – the papal agency for Middle East relief and development.

In an eight-page report, Msgr. Stern disclosed that funds assigned to the Pontifical Mission supported five projects:

  • Renovation of the student cafeteria at Bethlehem University, the only Catholic institution for high education in Palestine
  • Scholarships for 14 deaf children to attend the Paul VI Ephpheta Institute in Bethlehem, a school that teaches the deaf to lip-read and speak Arabic
  • Creation of public basketball and tennis courts in Ramallah, which will serve 22,000 residents, including students from nearby schools
  • Purchase of up-to-date reference and audiovisual materials and Internet service for the Pontifical Mission’s community libraries in Jerusalem and Bethlehem
  • Completion of the Al Fineeq community center kitchen at the Dheisheh camp for Palestinian refugees, located near Bethlehem.

“The projects selected and those who will benefit from them,” Msgr. Stern said, “demonstrate the Holy Father’s tireless efforts to mobilize the forces of love and charity of the Catholic world in favor of the victims – the poor, the afflicted, the sick and the maimed, the helpless, the innocent, the oppressed, the displaced, the refugee.”

Founded in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, CNEWA is an agency of the Vatican providing support to the churches and peoples of the Middle East, Northeast Africa, India and Eastern Europe. Programs include needy child, seminarian and novice sponsorship programs; village redevelopment; health care, education and interfaith dialogue.

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