LEBANON – Patriarch Rai relaunches the Pope’s words for a “Lebanese rebirth”

All political, social and religious forces in Lebanon that really wanted to pave the way for the “Lebanese rebirth” should deal with the words, that Pope Francis on Monday February 8th in his address to diplomats accredited to the Holy See. These encouraged us and could be used as a reference point. The proposal comes from Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, who during the homily of the mass celebrated on Tuesday 9 February at the Patriarchate of Bkerké on the occasion of the liturgical feast of St. Marone, father of the Maronite Church, re-read in its entirety the passage of the pontifical discourse relating to Lebanon, asking that the Pope’s wishes for the Lebanese people be entrusted to the intercession of the Saint whose name his Church takes.

Yesterday, in his speech to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis hopes “for renewed political commitment, both national and international, to fostering the stability of Lebanon, which is experiencing an internal crisis and risks losing its identity and finding itself caught up even more in regional tensions. It is most necessary” continued the Bishop of Rome “that the country maintain its unique identity, not least to ensure a pluralistic, tolerant and diversified Middle East in which the Christian community can make its proper contribution and not be reduced to a minority in need of protection.

Christians, with their many educational, health and charitable works, are an intrinsic part of Lebanon’s historical and social fabric, and they must be guaranteed the possibility of continuing their efforts for the good of the Country, of which they were founders “. In this regard, the Successor of Peter emphasized that “a weakening of the Christian presence risks destroying internal equilibrium and the very reality of Lebanon”, adding that “the presence of Syrian and Palestinian refugees must be also addressed. Moreover, without an urgently needed process of economic recovery and reconstruction”, the Pope warned, “the country risks bankruptcy, with the possible effect of a dangerous drift towards fundamentalism. It is therefore necessary for all political and religious leaders to set aside their personal interests and to commit themselves to pursuing justice and implementing real reforms for the good of their fellow citizens, acting transparently and taking responsibility for their actions”.

In the course of his homily, and before reading the last words dedicated by the Pope to his beloved Lebanon, Patriarch Bechara Rai re-proposed his recent idea of promoting under the aegis of the UN a National Conference in charge of addressing and resolving the Lebanese crisis. “Today” – said the Patriarch among other things, “we regret that on the feast of St. Marone we see Lebanese people who suffer and make sacrifices, while their State worries about petty things. Officials compete to find solutions to their problems, and lead us to look to the United Nations to try and save Lebanon. It is their duty to consider how an international conference on Lebanon can revive the country and prevent its downfall. “For the United Nations”, added the Lebanese Cardinal, “all the peoples who have gone through what we are going through today must have gone through.

The United Nations is not a sectarian or partisan group, to be exploited for the benefit of one or the other side. The UN does not represent a sectarian or partisan group to be exploited for the benefit of one or the other of the coalitions. It is an organization responsible for the fate of each member state and which has a duty to assist member states when they are going through crucial crises”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 9/2/2021)