PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Retired and resigned grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, Cardinal John P. Foley is all eyes on the revolution in Egypt and other Middle East nations as the organization helps to raise funds for church’s works in that region.
“I can understand the current unrest — it’s an expression of desire for democracy, but I hope it doesn’t become a situation in which Christians are further discriminated against in any of these countries,” Cardinal Foley said. “The situation is so unstable there, and of course Christians are such a minority there.”
He explained that in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox represents about 10 percent of the population.
Cardinal Foley said “We had just been asked by the Holy Father to help especially the Latin-rite Christians in Egypt and Lebanon in addition to Israel, Palestine and Jordan.”
The latter three countries are belonging to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher support.
“Egypt and Lebanon are separate Latin dioceses, but they are in need of assistance also and are considered part of the Holy Land,” he added.
The support aids parishes and schools, maintain Christian institutions and presence, as well as some humanitarian assistance in those heavily non-Christians environment lands, the cardinal said.
“We certainly want to maintain the continued presence of Christians in the Holy Land, the successors of the original followers of Christ, in the land where he was born, where he lived, where he died and where he rose from the dead,” Cardinal Foley said. “That’s very important, I think. And it’s been a privilege to have been associated with it.”
His appointment as grand master was a grateful one “because it was like a nice retreat, preparing for my own retirement,” he told Pope Benedict XVI on their meeting Feb. 10.
His inspiration came to those he met who have generosity assisting Christians of the Holy Land and his travel to the Holy Land through the years, the cardinal said.
There’s approximately €7 million (US$9.6 million) a year the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem received, when he began his duty. He was then-Archbishop.
“Now, they’re getting $10 million euros (US$13.8 million) a year” to send to the Holy Land, he said.
The funds are contributions from about 28,000 Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher around the globe.
Two new chapters are added among organization’s 60 jurisdictions; one in Moscow on January and in Cape Town, South Africa last December.
A United States jurisdictions were planned to be added, were they currently number nine. A new one has been formed in Italy.
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