Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum', arrives in the Holy Land today for the start of a three day visit. During his trip he plans to meet Catholic leaders and institutions and will donate $400,000 to the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, the Franciscan custos, Caritas and several Catholic communities. A communique released today about his trip states: "With the occupation of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which lasted 39 days, there was further proof of how necessary the presence of Christians in the Holy Land is. The continuous acts of violence between Palestinians and Israelis represents unfortunately a persistent threat to the lives of all the inhabitants of the region. Hospitality homes for pilgrims are empty, while in Bethlehem about 80 percent of the population is unemployed. The desire of many people to leave the country is well understood. The safekeeping of the Holy Places would be in serious danger if Christians were to abandon them. "Following the terrible attacks on the World Trade Centre, the Holy Father John Paul II appealed for material and spiritual aid for those suffering the consequences of war and terrorism. His Holiness, among other things, has designated $400,000 of the funds gathered for this purpose to the Holy Land. "The aim of this trip is not just to give this money. Through various meetings, the Holy Father's envoy hopes above all to encourage Christians to remain in these battered places, as so many missionaries are already doing in such a heroic fashion. The support is offered to improve living and working conditions in their land so they might be a fertile seed of humanity and peace." source: Vatican Information Service
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