Washington (Jul. 23)
(Jewish Daily Bulletin)
Impressed by the gravity of the situation that has been caused by the earthquake in Palestine, the Franciscan Commissariat of the Holy Land here yesterday cabled $5,000 to Jerusalem to meet emergency conditions that have arisen, according to a report of the National Catholic Welfare Council. This money will be used to make immediate repairs to the Christian Holy Places, if they are found necessary, and to assist the poor who have been afflicted by the catastrophe.
The emergency fund has been dispatched particularly to care for the poor of the stricken area, the announcement of the National Council states. The Franciscans have for centuries made the relief of the poor one of their chief missions, and it is expected that these sufferers. as always in the past. will appeal immediately to the Order in Palestine for assistance. This dependence of the people upon the Order was strikingly illustrated through the entire World War. The Franciscans at that time gave the suppliants food, medical attention and alms.
It it is found that the Christian Holy Places have suffered extensive damage in the quake, they will be repaired without delay and the Franciscan Order. the custodian of the Christian Holy Places in Palestine, will play a foremost part in the restoration, it was announced at the Commissariat here. In that event the American Commissariat will have a particular mission in the work.
Considerable anxiety is felt at the Commissariat, where no direct word has been received concerning the effect of the quake on the Christian Holy Places. However, some Franciscans here who are familiar with the Holy Land believe that the greatest havoc was wrought elsewhere than in Jerusalem, and that immediate cable advices would have been sent had the Christian Holy Places suffered any considerable damage.
But, it was said at the Commissariat, should it develop that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the great Christian shrine, has been badly damaged, as has been reported in some quarters, steps will be taken immediately to facilitate its restoration. The American Catholic laity would be given the opportunity to make voluntary contributions to this work, and the Franciscans stationed in the Holy Land would see to its completion, it was said.
This situation recalls the fact that any such work of restoration in the Holy Land is beset with many complications, the announcement further states. None of these should prove a serious obstacle, however.
To begin with, the reconstruction work would have to be done under the supervision and with the approval of Great Britain-the mandate power in the Holy Land. Formerly, however, Turkey exercised this supervision, so that this situation is not new.
Then, it would have to take into consideration the six different religious groups that have rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Latins, the Orthodox Greeks and the Schismatic Armenians own portions of the edifice, which the Schismatic Jacobites, the Copts and the Abyssinians enjoy certain ritualistic rights at specified hours around the Crypt of the Sepulchre as well as at Calvary. The Turkish Government drew up the rules under which these various religious groups officiate regularly at the Basilica, in 1852. after centuries of usurpation on the part of Schismatic groups and of conflict and compromise among them and political interests. Turkish sovereignty has passed but the old rules have been approved for the present by the League of Nations, and they still hold.