Build to Stay

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“I have decided to consecrate the rest of my life to this. All that I have done in 47 years of priesthood … will not be as important as what I am doing now. Here I am building a living church in which every stone is a human being”

These words, spoken by Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, Syria, appear in a recent issue of “The Holy Land Review” in an article titled In Their Own Words, Christians Persecuted in Syria and Iraq.

Because of the devastating turmoil wracking Syria and her neighboring countries, Christians are fleeing. The church, whether Syrian Catholic, Melkite Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic or Chaldean Catholic, struggles to encourage her members to stay. Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart has launched a movement called “Build to Stay” to help the beleaguered Christians in Aleppo improve their plight and prepare for a better future for themselves and their children.

It is tragically ironic that in a land where followers of Our Lord were first called ‘Christians’ and where St. Paul himself underwent his conversion the ancient heritage of Christianity is so perilously threatened.

To anyone desirous of having a better understanding of the vicissitudes the Church now encounters in and around the Levant, I recommend ‘The Holy Land Review’ – a quarterly magazine published by the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C. (See www.TheHolyLandReview.com).

Featuring articles written by experts this photo-rich publication provides in-depth knowledge of the complex situation of the Holy Land and its environs covering religious, cultural, biblical, archaeological and ecumenical issues. Of course, the Franciscans are in a privileged position to bring these matters to our attention inasmuch as the Church for the better part of a millennium has entrusted to their Order the custody of the Holy Land, Custodia Terrae Sanctae.

It is a pleasure to mention that the editor of “The Holy Land Review” is a member of the Board of Trustee of the National Catholic Community Foundation, our own Daniel Medinger! He and his staff colleagues render the rest of us a great service.

Not only does this magazine keep us current on the situation in the Holy Land and remind us that there are many Catholics who speak Arabic, it provides two other benefits. It informs us Christians in the West of the history and catholicity of the faith in the land of its infancy, and it demonstrates how when the virtue of hope is the only counter to desperate circumstance human being become the stones of the Church.

Dana Robinson is chair of the board of trustees of the National Catholic Community Foundation.

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