ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome  

Pope Donates €1 Million to Holy-Land Custodian
For Parish Center in Nazareth

JERUSALEM, DEC. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" gave the Custodian of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a check for €1 million on behalf of Benedict XVI.

Surrounded by the Nazareth Parish council as he made his presentation last Saturday, Archbishop Josef Cordes explained, "This money was collected in Germany, more specifically in Bavaria, at the initiative of the dioceses of Munich, Passau and Regensburg in the enthusiasm of the Pope's visit to his native country last September."

Having received this gift from his compatriots, the Holy Father gave the sum to "Cor Unum," "the Pope's charity," as Archbishop Cordes put it.

The pontifical council, in turn, sought a project on which to bestow the €1 million, worth about $1.3 million.

Its search for a beneficiary met with the Holy Land Custody's search for funds to open a large parish center in Nazareth, the largest parish in the Holy Land.

"The Holy Father would like to show the Christians of the Holy Land his support," Archbishop Cordes said. "The country of Christ should not become a museum without any remaining Christian presence."

The Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Pizzaballa, thanked the Pope and the German faithful for the donation, and added that "the city has not yet had a parish center capable of offering Christians a place of life, encounter and formation. It has long been a desire of the Custody to build this community space."

The Franciscan said that the first stone for the center could be laid as soon as February.