Cardinal Foley: Catholic Schools Key for Holy Land

Urges Order of the Holy Sepulcher to Continue to Work, Pray

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ROME, OCT. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Catholic schools may be the greatest contribution the Church can offer the efforts to build a culture of peace in the Holy Land, according to the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.



Cardinal John Foley said this Tuesday during his opening remarks at the meeting of the Grand Magisterium, the governing body of the order, held this week in Rome.

The cardinal, who participated in this month's Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops as a member by papal appointment, said it was a "privileged post [for him] to become more familiar not only with the Holy Land, which we are pledged to serve, but also with the Church in the entire Middle East, of which the Holy Land is such an essential part."

He noted that in his remarks at the synod, he underlined the important role of Catholic schools in the region: "During the historic pilgrimage of Pope Benedict XVI to the Holy Land last year, political leaders in the three areas we visited told me how much the Catholic schools in Jordan, Palestine and Israel contributed not only to the educational and cultural level of all three areas, but also to an atmosphere of greater mutual understanding and, we hope, eventual peace -- because all the schools are open not only to Catholics but to all Christians and indeed to Muslims and Jews."

In the first draft of the propositions that were published for consideration for the synod fathers, however, no mention was made of Catholic schools. Cardinal Foley explained how he had proposed an amendment "to correct this omission."

"Others in other small groups must have done the same thing because, when the final list of propositions arrived for our consideration, the proposition asking continuing support for Catholic schools on all levels open to all students was one of only two propositions out of almost 50 which received unanimous support," he reported.

"The work to which we as an order have dedicated ourselves over so many years has not only been welcomed but also very much appreciated," Cardinal Foley continued. "I ask not only that we continue not only what we have been doing, but that we do more on all levels: elementary, secondary and university.  

"In this way, it is the Catholic Church which helps to form some of the best prepared leaders in the societies of the Middle East, young men and women of sound moral principles prepared to be well informed leaders in their societies."

The cardinal noted that the members are "fortunate to be part of our Order at a moment in history when it is truly playing so important a role," and urged all the knights to "please, keep it up."

"As sacred Scripture says, 'Do not grow weary in well doing,'" he added. "Continue to pray daily for our brother and sister Christians in the Holy Land; continue to pray that peace may finally come to that troubled land; continue to make known that essential step that needs to be taken to peace -- that conversion of hearts and minds through a formation not only in knowledge but also in mutual understanding which the Catholic schools supported by our order help to bring about."

The Redeemer

Earlier in the day, at the opening Mass of the meeting, Cardinal Foley reflected on what he calls one of the "most moving moments" in the investiture ceremony of a new knight of the Holy Sepulcher: when he is "reminded that it is fitting for him to repeat, 'We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world.'"

"Jesus has indeed redeemed us and the whole world through His Cross and Resurrection, and we, through our vigil at the Holy Sepulcher, the empty tomb of Christ, remember that He truly is 'Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior' -- whom we adore because, as our Savior, he has redeemed the world," the cardinal reflected.

"We, as Christians," he added, "find in Jesus the savior promised to us to free us from the sin of Adam and indeed from all our sins; we, as Christians, find in Christ, the anointed priest, prophet and king -- Christ our King, Christ our High Priest, Christ the fulfillment of all that the prophets had said."

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, which dates back to the First Crusade in 1099, seeks to form in its members the spirit and ideal of the Crusades from which it originated. This includes preserving the faith in the Middle East and defending the rights of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.