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US Cardinal Keeps Watchful Eye on Situation Unfolding in Middle East
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Friday, February 25, 2011
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Cardinal Foley talks with a member of the Knights of Malta in 2010 at the North American College in Rome.
PHILADELPHIA (CNS)—Cardinal John P. Foley is keeping a watchful eye on the revolution in Egypt and other nations in the Middle East, despite his recent retirement and resignation as grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

The organization helps to raise funds for the works of the church 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."

In Egypt, about 10 percent of the population is Christian, primarily Coptic Orthodox, he explained.

"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," Cardinal Foley said.

The latter three countries are part of 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 in those lands, and to help Christians maintain their institutions and presence in a heavily non-Christian environment, as well as some humanitarian assistance, 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."

When Cardinal Foley met with Pope Benedict XVI Feb. 10, he told the pontiff he was grateful for his appointment as grand master "because it was like a nice retreat, preparing for my own retirement."

Traveling to the Holy Land and meeting with those who have generously assisted the Christians of the Holy Land through the years has been an inspiration to him, the cardinal said.

When then-Archbishop Foley began his duties as grand master, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem received approximately $7 million euros (US$9.6 million) a year.

"Now, they're getting $10 million euros (US$13.8 million) a year" to send to the Holy Land, he said.

The funds are contributed by a membership of approximately 28,000 Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher around the globe.

Among the organization's 60 jurisdictions are two new chapters: one in Moscow, added this past January, the other in Cape Town, South Africa, added last December.

In addition, new jurisdictions have been formed in Italy. Additional jurisdictions were planned for the United States, where they currently number nine.



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