FFHL PRESS ROOM
Welcome to the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land Press Room. Below you will find all the resources you need to learn more about, and also to promote, the cause of safeguarding the Christian Presence in the Holy Land, which is under attack from every side. Whether it be press releases, image galleries, videos, news articles, or frequently asked questions, this page has everything you need, and more. Further information and more downloadable resources can be found on our FFHL PR Packet page below as well.
FFHL PRESS RELEASES
The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land has an active presence in the press world. With the reach of our press releases we have successfully spread the cause of the Christians in the Holy Land in many publications across the country. For a full list of the FFHL Press releases, click below.
ALL Press Releases
MOST RECENT NEWS ARTICLES BY TOPIC
FFHL IN THE
Bethlehem Boys’ Home Celebrates 10 Year AnniversarySeptember 29, 2017
Magnificat Institute Hosts the Sounding Jerusalem FestivalAugust 31, 2017
FFHL VP Shares Eye-Opening Information About Christians in the Holy LandJuly 24, 2017
Greet Jesus on Palm Sunday in JerusalemMarch 22, 2017
HOLY LAND IN THE NEWS
Paris Exhibit Highlights 2000 Year History of Eastern Christians, Their Artistic & Cultural InfluencesSeptember 26, 2017
What Does Tradition Say About the Birth of Mary?September 21, 2017
Firefighter, Nurse, Supervisor, Teacher, Priest – One Man is Making a Difference in AleppoJuly 28, 2017
Pope Francis Calls for Moderation and Dialogue in JerusalemJuly 27, 2017
Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: A Remarkable ExperienceSeptember 8, 2017
Religious Icons of the Holy Land: Windows to HeavenJune 28, 2017
A Virtual Pilgrimage through the Sites of St. John the BaptistJune 23, 2017
“My Soul Proclaims the Greatness of the Lord…” – Ein KaremMay 19, 2017
FR. PETER VASKO, OFM ANSWERS 10 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FFHL
For example in spite of all the political turmoil around us, the Custody’s foundation (FFHL) is still providing hope as well as a future for our Christians by continuing to provide them with important educational programs such as the Child Sponsorship Program where we find individuals in the U.S. who will pay the school tuition of economically marginalized students from 6th to 12th or a similar program for those students wishing to develop their musical talents or even our most successful program the College Scholarship Program where we find other sponsors to pay for the college tuition of students who show high academic acumen but whose families are economically marginalized.
We have a host of other humanitarian projects such as the Franciscan Boys Home, Children Without Borders, Franciscan Family Centers, Free Medicine Program, Housing, etc. None of these programs have been affected by the sad cycle of violence around us. The only exception has been in Gaza where we only have about 2000 Christians. Many of their homes have been destroyed, schooling has been chaotic and where families are leaving. Given the political situation surrounding Gaza, I really don’t see any improvement in the future. Yes we are attempting to help but getting things into Gaza is difficult. Overall the political climate around Israel or what we call the Holy Land is not too positive but we will have to wait and see. The internal factions among the Muslims- between the Shiites who account fro 10-l5 % of the Muslims worldwide and the Sunnis who account for 85% of the Muslims worldwide along with some of the Middle East countries they represent are problematic for Israel. Israel is actually surrounded by many fanatical militant Muslims.
For many Jews and Muslims, the Christians are a minority in this land and don’t have any real political power, secondly a good number of Jews look upon them first as Arabs, then Palestinians and hence possible enemies of Israel, while militant Muslims look upon them as pro-west and traitors to the Islamic cause. After 30 years of ministering in this land, it is still a land filled with tension, with mistrust, with duplicity and sometimes with hate because of the differences in religious beliefs. So I think that Christians are caught between a rock and a hard place and are limited in what they can do from the standpoints just expressed.
In spite of strong protest from the church hierarchy as well as from the Crusaders not to proceed, Francis, along with another friar, followed his spirit and proceeded courageously to reach the Sultan. They were captured and eventually dragged before him. Francis told the Sultan that they had been sent by God, not by man, to show him and his subjects the way of salvation and to plead for peace. Apparently the sultan was so impressed by this raggedly clad man, his simplicity, his courage and enthusiasm that he gave them safe conducts to return back to the Crusader camp but sadly without an accord of peace. The Sultan later called Francis’s followers the ‘friars of the cord’.
In our situation in the Holy Land, we too, as sons of St. Francis, try to be free from ‘enemy making’. Where others created enemies, we try and create brother and sister. A good example was the 39-day-old siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on April 2, 2002. Several hundred Muslim Palestinian combatants were being chased by Israeli military and ran into the church claiming sanctuary. When the Israeli military tried to enter the church several friars along with several Greek Orthodox monks gently but sternly told the soldiers that they were not able to enter the Church because it is considered a sanctuary. So for the next 39 days, the complex of the Church of the Nativity was completely surrounded by the Israeli Defense forces. Inside the Basilica, we provided mattresses for the Muslims to sleep on, provided water and fed them with whatever food we had. Two weeks later the electricity and water were turned off by the military and eventually on May 10 the siege ended. Yet during this time, we became the mediators along with other ecclesiastical personages to help resolve the crisis. That is what we have been trained to do and we continue to bring that charism to bear when problems arise.
His visit gave the local Christians new hope for the future. Indeed the visits of Pope St. John Paul II, of Pope Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis to the Christians in the Holy Land demonstrated the concern that the Popes have had for them. The Christians truly felt embraced with genuine love. At the same time these visits have always had a positive effect in that many more donors began sending in financial assistance to the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land thus helping us to help with the increased needs of the Christian communities in this land.
We must never forget that the Holy Land is the ‘Cradle of Christianity’. The only founder of the three monotheistic religions that was born here was Jesus himself, and hence we have an important stake in this land. Let us always remember that we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. The Holy Land, our Christian heritage, our living church in Jerusalem, our sacred Holy Sites…these are the shoulders on which we stand when it comes to our faith.
By helping the mother church of Jerusalem, we will be bringing hope where there was despair, light where there was darkness, joy where there was sorrow, faith where there was doubt. The Christopher’s used to say that it takes only one candle to light the darkness. My question to all Christians is this- our Church is dying, it needs to be rebuilt…will you be that candle to light the darkness for our young brothers and sisters who desperately need your help.
Are you a journalist or member of the press and have any questions about the FFHL? Feel free to contact Stephanie Engelman, our Communications Manager, at:
Phone: (855) 372-0580 (toll free)
(Please be advised: the contact details are only for the Press. For any other request, email us at email@example.com)