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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Apr 12th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Lebanese Prelate to Ask Bush's Help With Neighbors
Lebanese Prelate to Ask Bush's Help With Neighbors PDF Print E-mail
Written by Zenit, Houston Chronicle   
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Milad Yaghi, left, pastor of Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Catholic Church, welcomed Cardinal Nasrallah Peter Sfeir on Monday. Sfeir spoke in Houston before heading to the White House. GARY FOUNTAIN: FOR THE CHRONICLE
Milad Yaghi, left, pastor of Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Catholic Church, welcomed Cardinal Nasrallah Peter Sfeir on Monday. Sfeir spoke in Houston before heading to the White House. GARY FOUNTAIN: FOR THE CHRONICLE

Today, May 21, 2008 At 1:25 pm the President will meet with the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon.

Cardinal Sfeir Continues Tour to Seek Peace in Mideast

HOUSTON, Texas, MAY 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Maronite patriarch of Antioch said he will ask U.S. President George Bush for help so that Lebanon can be sovereign and independent.

Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir said this Monday during a visit to Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Catholic Church in Texas, reported the Houston Chronicle.

"We need to be assured that neighboring countries will not attack, invade, undermine or compromise the sovereignty of Lebanon," Cardinal Sfeir said. "I am asking for [Bush's] help so Lebanon will be sovereign and independent and have the best situation with all her neighbors."

The patriarch is scheduled to meet with Bush on Thursday.

Cardinal Sfeir is on a multi-continent trip that he began May 4. His first stops included Qatar and South Africa, and during the U.S. leg of the trip, he has stopped in New York, Philadelphia, and Houston, Texas.

On Thursday, he addressed the U.N. Security Council, where he spoke of the various issues facing Lebanon. He also met privately with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Fighting in Lebanon escalated May 7 when the nation's cabinet banned the communication system used by the Shiite Hezbollah group. More than 80 people have since been killed. The Pope appealed for peace in Lebanon after praying the midday Regina Caeli on May 11 in St. Peter's Square.

Lebanon's complex political and social situation has resulted in a power vacuum in the country. Since November, opposing factions have been unable to come together to elect a president.

Loving one another

In Philadelphia on Friday at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, Cardinal Sfeir expressed his confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Noting the first feast of Pentecost, the cardinal said, "This same Holy Spirit can still change things today! As the Holy Father said recently, 'The Church is in a perpetual state of Pentecost.' Yes, even though the world around us remains imperfect in so many ways, we are always in a state of Pentecost if our hearts are open to repentance, forgiveness, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"We gather today to offer this Divine Liturgy and to pray for a new outpouring of this Holy Spirit. We invoke the tender care of the Mother of God, Mary, to pray for Lebanon and her people. […] It is that Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to love another as he loves us."

Faith and reason

While in Philadelphia, the cardinal also received an honorary doctorate from Villanova University, which is a sister school with Lebanon's American University of Science and Technology.

He thanked the priests who had visited Lebanon and invited him to Philadelphia to receive the degree.

"Visiting Lebanon is so very important to the Lebanese, because there, you can see for yourself the special character of Lebanon, home to Sts. Sharbel, Rafka, Nemtallah and now, most recently Blessed Jaques Haddad, and where even today the desire for holiness and love of hospitality is still part of the very soul of the Lebanese people," the cardinal said. "One still sees and experiences in Lebanon the conviviality among religions and cultures.

"Unfortunately, we also note -- as we sadly see today -- the challenges, failures and intense pressures present where different opinions and political currents meet and conflict."

Cardinal Sfeir said that despite everything, Lebanon's Catholic education system is thriving.

"How important it is for our young people to know the world in all its cultures, to be steeped in the richness of Catholic tradition, to honor faith and reason, to live by Catholic principles of social justice and ethics, and to take the time to know others well -- even those whose ideas are different from our own," he stated. "This is also what makes Lebanon so precious. In Lebanon all Catholic education -- elementary, secondary, and higher education -- continues to thrive; we hope it always will."

© Innovative Media, Inc.

Reprinting ZENIT's articles requires written permission from the editor.

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Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East - From Lebanon - Patriarch Sfeir in Houston 5/20/08

 

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Far from home, a plea to neighbors
Maronite cardinal tells of countries' threat to Lebanon
By BILL MURPHY
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

During a visit in Houston two days before he heads to the White House, the head of the Lebanon-based Maronite Catholic Church called on his country's neighbors not to take actions that could destabilize democracy in his land.

Syria, Iran and Israel are among countries that can influence politics in Lebanon, Cardinal Nasrallah Peter Sfeir said Monday at Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Catholic Church in southwest Houston.

"We need to be assured that neighboring countries will not attack, invade, undermine or compromise the sovereignty of Lebanon," said Sfeir, during the first visit by the head of the Maronite Catholic Church to Houston.

Sfeir said he would press home the same message while meeting with Bush on Thursday in the Oval Office.

"I have a message to him. I am asking for his help so Lebanon will be sovereign and independent and have the best situation with all her neighbors," he said.

Sfeir comes to the U.S. at a time of unrest in his country. Earlier this month, the Iranian-backed forces of the radical Shiite group Hezbollah took over much of Beirut.

Lebanon's pro-Western government grew out of the Cedar Revolution in 2005, when Syrian troops were pushed out of Lebanon. Bush has cited Lebanon as a success story in his effort to foster democracy in the Middle East.

Sfeir said he worries that Lebanon will not be allowed to determine its future. The country has been without a president since November.

Lebanon's politics are complex and factionalized, with Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims of Hezbollah, Druze (a Muslim sect), Maronites and other Christian sects all looking for influence. Outside countries also exert influence.

"We need all of our constitutional institutions to be active and effective," he said. "Lebanon, by nature, is pluralistic, a country governed by a consensual democracy. This special character of Lebanon should be safeguarded and never lost."

Sfeir is the patriarch — leader — of the Maronites, one of the largest Eastern rite communities of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also a cardinal in Rome. The religion traces its origins to the early 5th century. Maronites share with other Catholics the same doctrine but have their own liturgy in an ancient Syrian language.

Sfeir said Christians continue to leave Lebanon because of the country's political instability. "We need the help of all nations to safeguard and support their presence and status," he said.

Alberto Tohme, a parishioner at Our Lady of Cedars who follows political events in Lebanon, said, "It has been a very difficult path for the Maronites and Christians in Lebanon."

There are 9 million Maronites worldwide, said Christine Dow, spokeswoman for Our Lady of Cedars, the area's only Maronite church.

The Maronite community in Houston has grown since the early 1990s, and about 500 families belong to Our Lady of Cedars, Dow said.

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 May 2008 )
 
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