24 October 2011
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai spoke to reporters at
our office in New York last week. (photo: Erin Edwards)
Last week, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai held a press conference at CNEWA’s headquarters. Since then, several news publications have released articles documenting his hour-long talk.
Writing for Catholic News Services, Beth Griffin reports:
[The patriarch] said the church does “not side with any government or regime,” but asks whoever is in power to respect the rights of the people and guarantee freedom of speech, religion and conscience.
Patriarch Rai said that in Lebanon, 18 distinct religious groups live together, “not in ghettoes.” He said Lebanon is a sign of hope for peoples of the region, and “the church in Lebanon is considered a guarantee for the Christian presence for that part of the world.”
In a detailed piece for the National Catholic Reporter, Tom Gallagher spotlights the following statements by Patriarch Bechara:
“We want to see a Middle East renewed in its respect of human rights and dignity, especially for her minorities. We want to see people electing democratic governments and holding them accountable. ...
“It is important to point out the role the Christians played in upholding democratic principles, freedoms and human rights in the Middle East. This is why a Christian presence there should be safeguarded and strengthened,” he said.
As part of his prepared remarks, Rai also spoke strongly for Palestinian refugees and said Israel needs to withdraw from parts of Lebanon.
“I ask the world community to commit itself to implementing the U.N. Resolutions concerning Lebanon in a direct way, such as 1701, which requires Israel to withdraw from the village of Ghajar, the Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfar Shuba, and to refrain from violating Lebanese sovereignty,” he said.
The National Catholic Reporter piece is of particular interest; not only does Mr. Gallagher summarize the patriarch's address, but he goes as far as to conclude with a transcript of the event.
The full articles can be found by following their respective links: National Catholic Reporter and Catholic News Service. Other links of interest might include our previous blog entry and our Picture of the Day capturing a scene from the event.
Tags: Lebanon Middle East Interreligious Christian-Muslim relations Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter