Maronite Patriarch Calls for Dialogue in Syria
Lebanese army soldiers patrol in their armored vehicle in a neighborhood in Tripoli 4 June after clashes between Alawites and Sunni groups. During his 3 June homily, Lebanons Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai condemned the clashes that left at lea st 14 people dead and more than 50 wounded. (photo: CNS/Stringer via Reuters)
06 Jun 2012 by Doreen Abi Raad
BEIRUT (CNS) — Warning that Lebanon is going
through a critical juncture, Maronite Catholic Patriarch
Bechara Rai called for national dialogue to address the
security and political situation in the country.
During his June 3 homily at Bkerke, just north of
Beirut, the patriarch condemned the previous days clashes
in the northern coastal city of Tripoli between Sunni
groups opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad and
Alawites who support the Syrian leader. At least 14 people
died and more than 50 were wounded.
Patriarch Rai called upon the Lebanese authorities
to take immediate and wise measures to halt the conflict
and reunite the people of Tripoli.
We pray also for the people of Tripoli and peace
in the city, he said, expressing sympathy for the victims
and their families.
He stressed that Lebanon is greatly influenced by
what is happening in the region.
The patriarchs remarks follow a late-May
statement from the Maronite Council of Bishops, which
warned against attempts to drag the country toward a new
war through fueling sectarian tensions.
The bishops urged officials to shield the army
from political tensions that would harm its credibility and
warned against divisions within the countrys military and
Harming its unity will lead Lebanon toward a
dangeros path, cautioned the bishops.
They emphasized that the governments
institutions are the sole (authorities that can) resolve
They said Lebanons citizens are entitled to take
part in determining the future of their country without
placing one factions interests above the other.
Lebanon has been plagued by political infighting,
even among its Maronite Catholic political parties.
Lebanons president has called for the countrys political
factions to resume national dialogue sessions, setting June
11 as a meeting date.
Officials must comply with President Michel
Suleimans call to resume the national dialogue without
preconditions, the bishops said.
Following a June 4 meeting with the patriarch at
Bkerke, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati said the
tensions in Tripoli date back several decades, and I call
on everyone to practice self-restraint.
He maintained that his government is preserving
stability, saying that through unity and awareness
Lebanon can prevent a spillover of the Syrian crisis into
Lebanons population of nearly 4 million
comprises 18 different religions, 12 of which are
Christian. While there has been no official census in
decades, Christians are thought to represent about 33
percent of the population.
However, due to instability in the country and the
region, Christians have been emigrating in increasing
Tags: Lebanon Syria Refugees Arab Spring Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai