Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, met Friday in Bkirki with the Armenian Catholic Church Patriarch, Gregorios Boutros XX Gabroian, at the head of a delegation of priests who came to express their Easter greetings.
The Armenian Patriarch thanked al-Rahi for his declared positions in calling for the enlightenment of consciences "because it is important for all of us to know that Lebanon is for all its sons and not for a particular sect or a party."
"The Lebanese people can no longer tolerate, especially in terms of shouldering the country's economic burdens," he added.
"Patriarch al-Rahi speaks the language of the Christians not only at home, but in various parts of the world. Christians in the Middle East are keen on the survival of Christians in Lebanon, for they are a beacon in this East," Gabroian asserted.
Later, the Patriarch met with a German delegation from the "Abraham Group" led by Prof. Stefan Feymor, accompanied by a delegation from the World Forum for Religions and Humanity. They congratulated the Patriarch on Easter occasion, and listened to his views on interfaith dialogue and his expectations of the German community in this regard.
Feymor then gave a briefing of the 18-year-old Abrahamic Group in Germany, which includes members of different faiths whose purpose is to introduce people to each other, thus bringing views and perspectives closer together.
"Lebanon has been chosen to visit this year for its exemplary model of the message of meeting and dialogue between religions and cultures," he said, adding, "its [Lebanon's] history is very rich, so we decided with great enthusiasm to visit and explore it closely."
For his part, Patriarch al-Rahi praised the Group's "keen interest in spreading the culture of dialogue and coexistence among religions."
"Unfortunately, the Middle East is witnessing the imposition of foreign policies that justify wars, conflicts and fighting, and therefore the separation between the region's constituents, which is known as a land of peace and love, to become today the land of international conflicts," Rahi added regretfully.
"As you have seen in your visit, Lebanon is a unique example among the countries of this region, for it is a pluralistic country whose constitution and charter are based on living together in equality between all its citizens who share in governance and administration," the Patriarch emphasized.
"Its system separates religion from the state but does not separate the state from God. It does not legislate what is contrary to religion," he maintained.
"Lebanon is a model for the recognition of civil liberties," the Patriarch underlined.
Rahi continued to indicate that "Lebanon today hosts about half a million Palestinian refugees and about one and a half million Syrian refugees, which has greatly affected its economic, social, security and educational status."
He cautioned that "time is not in favor of Lebanon if this presence continues on its territory."
"We have repeatedly expressed our position on the return of refugees and displaced persons to their land. It is not out of hatred, God forbid, but for the sake of our mutual interests...Our small country can no longer bear this burden and they must return to their land and adhere to their culture and history," Rahi emphasized.
"But the problem today lies with the huge powers, since they do not want to facilitate their return. To the displaced Syrians, these countries insist not to separate their case from the political solution in Syria. However, if the status quo persists, it foretells of future risks," warned al-Rahi.
He continued to stress that "it is not in the interest of Europe and the West to ignore the matter because it may also cause them serious conflicts." Al-Rahi added, "The Christian presence is necessary in this East and must be preserved in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt and all countries."
"We speak of the coexistence of religions. Let us raise our voice in all parts of the world, calling for the rejection of the language of war, destruction and hatred, and for establishing the language of peace, dialogue and openness, which alone preserves the dignity of human beings and their diversity," the Patriarch reiterated.
In another context, Patriarch al-Rahi met this afternoon with the UNIFIL Italian Contingent Commander, General Diodato Abaniara, and the spiritual leader of the battalion, Father Claudio Mancozi, with whom he reviewed the situation in the area south of the Litani River.
The encounter was a chance to stress "UNIFIL's interest in maintaining the stability and security of the region and extending an aiding hand to its residents."
Source: National News Agency