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The Custos of the Holy Land at the Meeting of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO)

The 84th Meeting of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO) began Tuesday in the Vatican. R.O.A.C.O. is a committee which unites funding agencies from various countries around the world for the sake of providing assistance in different areas of Church life from worship buildings to scholarships, from houses of study and formation to social and health care facilities.

Founded in 1968 by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, R.O.A.C.O has as its the President the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, and as its Vice-President, the Secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, SJ.

Coptic Catholic Patriarch SB Cardinal Antonios Naguib and newly elected Maronite Patriarch, SB Boutros Bechara Rai were to take part in the meetings, which take place from 21 to 24 June 2011.

The two prelates will offer their analysis of the current situation of Christians in the Middle East to assist Catholic service agencies support the mission of the Eastern Churches and their commitment to ecumenical and interreligious peace. Particular attention will be given to the Synod for the Middle East celebrated in October 2010 and to the situation in Holy Land.

Representatives from over 20 Catholic agencies from 10 Western countries are attending the meetings. The Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem, HE Msgr. Antonio Franco, and the Custos of the Holy Land, Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM are also attending.

Delegates will offer best wishes and thanks for the many years of service dedicated to R.O.A.C.O by H.E. Rev. Leon Lemmens, former Secretary of ROACO and recently appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Mechelen-Brussels, and by Bishop Robert L. Stern, who is leaving his post as head of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and the Pontifical Mission for Palestine after 22 years.

Apart from C.N.E.W.A., located in the United States and approved by Pope Pius XI in 1928, and the U.S. based “Pontifical Mission for Palestine” created in 1949, R.O.A.C.O includes many other aid agencies from Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Austria.

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