Pope Entrusts Institute in Jerusalem to Legionaries of Christ

Notre Dame Center a Sign of Holy See's Presence in Mideast

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II entrusted to the Legionaries of Christ the direction and administration of the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, the Holy See's religious, charitable, cultural and educational institute in that city.



The Pope communicated his decision through a document issued "motu propio" (on his own initiative) and handed it to the religious congregation's founder, Father Marcial Maciel, on Friday, the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The Holy Father explains in the text that the Notre Dame Center is an expression of his spiritual closeness to all the ecclesial and human realities in the Holy Land.

The pontifical institute is dedicated to offering "hospitality to pilgrims from all parts of the world who visit the Holy Land, especially the clergy and consecrated persons," the papal document stated. It is also a "privileged place of meeting and dialogue among religions, cultures and peoples."

The Notre Dame Center, whose construction was finished in 1904, has been the property of the Holy See since 1970. On Dec. 13, 1978, John Paul II signed a decree establishing it as a pontifical institute and ecumenical center.

The institute is located close to the Holy Sepulcher. The center houses the public library of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, a school of hotel services, and a school of information technology.

The center can accommodate 280 pilgrims, and has conference and meeting rooms and one of the largest and most modern auditoriums in Jerusalem.

John Paul II concludes his document "commending this new apostolate of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in the Holy Land to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, under whose protection the Pontifical Institute has been placed, since its foundation."