Pope Earmarks Holy Thursday for Syrian Refugees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has decided the collection taken up at his Holy Thursday evening Mass will be used to offer humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

The Pontifical Mission for Palestine — the Vatican’s emergency relief agency for the Middle East — estimates it would cost $20 million to care for all the Syrian refugees now in Jordan. According to the mission, the only incoming funds so far have been a half a million dollars donated by the Irish government to provide aid for all Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

Each year, the pope chooses where to send the collection taken up during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

Pope Benedict’s decision to use the collection from the Mass April 5 to support Syrian refugees was announced by the Vatican March 27.

The announcement came with the pope’s Holy Week schedule, which the Vatican published the same day.

The pope was to celebrate the usual slate of Holy Week and Easter liturgies: Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square April 1; the chrism Mass in the morning April 5 in St. Peter’s Basilica; the Mass of the Lord’s Supper that evening; on Good Friday, April 6, the afternoon liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by the nighttime Way of the Cross at the Colosseum; the Easter Vigil April 7 in St. Peter’s Basilica; and Easter morning Mass April 8 in St. Peter’s Square.

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