ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Patriarch “appeals” to politicians, banks and private health institutions

Thursday, 7 January 2021 middle east   oriental churches   pandemic   politics   healthcare   geopolitics  

Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - Three "appeals" to introduce a real change in one's current modus operandi, to correspond to the call for renewal of the country which is repeated to all Lebanese also by the Christian solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. The triple appeal, expressed in the light of the feast that celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the people, was addressed by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai to politicians, private health institutions and the Banks of the Land of Cedars, during the homily delivered on the occasion of the solemn liturgy presided on January 6 by the Lebanese Cardinal at the patriarchal see of Bkerké.
In particular, the Patriarch turned to Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who were urged by the Patriarch to dispel hostilities and misunderstandings through a personal "meeting of reconciliation", to abandon sectarian logic and to overcome the political paralysis that has long prevented the formation of a new government and save the country from definitive collapse. The previous government fell after protests following the explosions in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. Outgoing Prime Minister Hassan Diab was brought to justice along with three former ministers. The Sunni Hariri, leader of the political "Future" party, was tasked with forming a new government on October 22, 2020, but has not yet managed to set up a new cabinet. Not least because of the institutional tensions between the Prime Minister-designate and President Aoun regarding the list of ministers who should form the government. Added to this is new international pressure aimed at defining the political profile of the new executive. In particular, Hariri fears the threat of US sanctions, which could also affect him if ministries are filled with political representatives officially belonging to the Shiite Party of Hezbollah. Today, Thursday 7 January, President Aoun was received by the Maronite Patriarch in the Patriarchate of Bkerké (photo). Lebanese media reported on a "courtesy" visit, which also aimed to "deny" rumors of alleged tension between the President and the Patriarch.
The second appeal of the Patriarch was dedicated to the country's private health facilities, most of which are owned by the Church and have been invited by Cardinal Rai to make their facilities available "to welcome our brothers and sisters affected by the Covid-19 epidemic". In the health crisis faced by the country - said the Patriarch - the vocation to help the weakest brothers and fellow citizens must prevail over legitimate financial concerns.
The third appeal on the Feast of the Three Kings is for the banks, who have been asked by the Patriarch to authorize the transfer of funds intended to support young Lebanese studying abroad. "These students," said the Maronite Patriarch, "have the right to live in dignity with the money their families have deposited with the banks. They have to pay the university's installments and provide room and board." The freezing of bank accounts and the restriction of international money transfers to combat capital flight abroad are associated with the country's dramatic economic crisis. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 7/1/2021)