"I'm Neither a Politician Nor a Head of State" says the Maronite Patriarch

Even after his return from France where he was honored by a distinguished and privileged invitation by the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the recent speeches of the Maronite Patriarch His Beatitude Beshara Peter Al Rahi, continue to stir the political society in Lebanon. Fears about an extremist Sunnite regime in the battered neighboring country Syria taking control of the country, is seen by the Patriarch as a potentially dangerous and painful episode for minority Christians both in Syria and in Lebanon. His remarks and fears are in fact reasonably founded by recalling the latest murders of Christians at churches, in Iraq and in Egypt.

His Beatitude Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All The East

But the Patriarch’s remarks were wrongly understood by many parties in Lebanon and were seen as a political position giving a support for the 43 years old regime in Syria, who has been lately under severe sanctions from the international community. The Maronite Patriarch has made it clear on several occasions that his only worry is the Christians of the Middle East, who seem to be paying the highest price in every conflict and every change of regime in the area. But the multiple clarifications advanced by the Head of the Maronite Church did not suffice to any of the parties who are attempting to find the match between their political positions and the views and speeches emanating from Bkerke.

Due to the high importance and significance of Bkerke in Lebanon and in the region, all parties especially in Lebanon want to see the Patriarch on their side and supporting their ideas and beliefs. But Bkerke is far from politics and the words of the Patriarch can be understood in their right context only by putting all interests aside and focusing on the dignity and respect of the christians in the Middle East, who have become a target for persecution and intolerance because of their faith by fanatic groups and extremist parties and movements.   

Besides Lebanon, the Patriarch’s remarks have made a lot of noise even among the international community. In fact it was believed that a meeting between His Beatitude and president Obama was scheduled at the White House along with several other meetings with US officials during his trip to the United States, then rumors came out that such meetings were cancelled by the US authorities after the latest words from the Maronite Patriarch. But His Beatitude had another explanation to this facts and prior to his departure from Beirut International Airport he clearly stated:”I’m neither a politician nor a Head of State”, and he added that he never requested to meet with any of the US officials and that his visit to the US is strictly a pastoral visit to the Maronite eparchies in the United States, in compliance with the canonical rules of the Maronite Church. 

Other trips and journeys for the Maronite Patriarch notably to Syria and Iraq were evoked and His Beatitude insisted on each public appearance that his eventual trips are meant strictly for pastoral visits to the maronite eparchies around the world, and that no political clue or hint should ever be concluded from any of his visits, or destinations. According to the canonical law in the maronite church, the Patriarch should visit the maronite eparchies at least once every five years. 

Throughout the years, the Maronite Patriarchate’s interest was always focused on the church and the Christian community far away from political or any other interest. His Beatitude Mar Beshara Peter Al Rahi, the 77th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, is making no exception, he is carrying the torch of his predecessors, having Charbel, Rafqa, and Al Hardini in the mind and in the heart, acting in the light of the Holy Spirit, not listening to politicians but to the words of Christ and following no Heads of States but following only Christ.

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