Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Lebanon mourns the death of Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Patriarch Emeritus of Antioch of the Maronites, who died on Sunday 12 May at the age of 99. The Lebanese government has proclaimed two days of national mourning - Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May - to honor the deceased Patriarch, who was at the head of the Maronite Church in the last years of the civil war. The funeral liturgy will be celebrated on Thursday, May 16, the day on which even the schools will remain closed.
The public commemorations and the declarations of political and religious leaders on the figure of the deceased Patriarch also highlight the role of guarantor of the independence, sovereignty and Lebanese interreligious coexistence which he carried out in the troubled phases of the recent history of the Country of the Cedars, as the period in which Lebanon was in fact subjected to the protection of the Syrian regime of Hafez al Assad. Patriarch Sfeir is also celebrated for his role in the reconciliation between Christians and Druze, and for his support for the Ta'if agreements, the treaty aimed at ending the Lebanese civil war, ratified by the Parliament of Lebanon on 5 November 1989.
Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, created Cardinal by John Paul II in November 1994, in the long run - from 1986 to 2011 - in which he had led the Maronite Church, was also among the protagonists - as President Delegate - of the Special Assembly of Synod of Bishops for Lebanon (26 November - 14 December 1995), and was appointed President of the Honorary Delegate of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops (October 2010). (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 13/5/2019)