On the third of November, the maronite bishops held their monthly meeting in Bkerke, which was presided by His Beatitude the Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Al Rahi and in the presence of His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and the superiors in the Maronite Order. The meeting was focused on issues related to the church as well as national issues. At the end of their meeting, the bishops issued a statement.
The Statement revealed that HB the Patriarch has shed the light on his pastoral visit to the USA which he started with a closed meeting with the Maronite Bishops of the American continent and the superiors of the Maronite Order, in which affairs related to the Maronite church were discussed along with matters related to the expats. Then he went on to visit the two Maronite eparchies in the USA, inciting his brothers to hold on to their faith and to their original oriental and Lebanese identity, he also met with the bishops of the Latin eparchies there and the bishops of the oriental churches and the Heads of the Muslim religion. He ended his visit with a meeting with the secretary general of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, and he expressed the hope of the church for a better future for the people of the Arab countries in their quest to produce democratic regimes and give up the use of violence to resolve their problems. He insisted on the role of Lebanon in the region as an example for the coexistence of the civilizations at the east of the Mediterranean, and the coexistence of religions and their mutual interactions within a political system based on justice, equality, and the real participation of all citizens.
As the Maronite bishops evaluated the wishes and hopes of different populations in the Arab world, they insisted on the immediate halting of violence and they expressed their worries about the lack of religious, human, politeness and political ethics in such events, which do not forecast a clear and encouraging outcome. They condemned the happenings to minorities and condemned the way they are being treated as if they were not a main ingredient of the society to which they belong. That is why the Bishops invite the different countries which are in the course of drafting new constitutions to become the future civil countries that guarantee the rights of all its ingredients. The Bishops also welcomed the exchange of prisoners between Israel and the Palestinians, hoping for a new dawn for the people of Palestine ending its long time ordeal throughout the creation of a Palestinian State.
The bishops expressed their contentment with regards to Pope Benedict XVI's call to the meeting of Assisi where representatives from several religions and non believers gathered in order to go forward on the way of peace and the common good, which is the call of the whole humanity for a better future. Also in the same subject was the visit of the Patriarch to Iraq where he called for peace and he carried the message of Lebanon calling for the coexistence between Christians and Muslims. The bishops also look forward with great interest to the next spiritual summit for the middle-east that is intended to take place, their wishes for it is to be a message of peace from the region which is the cradle of religions.
The Maronite bishops expressed their pain with regards to the political divisions in Lebanon, they called for the Lebanese people to hold on to the good of their country and not to expose it to any exterior intervention or put it in a confrontation with the international community and to condemn any act violating the Lebanese sovereignty, in addition to the internal situation where security is being shaken by the increase of crimes and robberies, and also the violation of public and private properties. All such events call for worry as if the Lebanese people have not yet decided to live in one country which safeguards everyone equally under the law. The Bishops can only remind people about the fact that Lebanon was initially built on the partnership between all parties and ingredients, they also expressed their regrets about the obvious gaps in the governmental institutions and the mistreatment of employees of certain religions.
The bishops expressed their relief with regards to the solution that has ended the strike of the teachers of the Lebanese university, but they are also worried about the outcome of the claims for higher salaries and the events that followed, which leaves questions about the future of social equality in Lebanon. They also fear that raising salaries without appropriate studies might only lead to heavier burdens especially on schools and parents, which will expose the Lebanese economy to a new and undesirable quake. The bishops ask the government to establish a general economical plan ensuring social justice and covering the needs of all citizens.
The bishops congratulate the Muslim community in Lebanon and the world for the feast of Adha and they ask God for his blessing and graces for them and for their countries.
With the beginning of the new liturgical year, and in spite of the tragic historical events that occurred, the bishops call for their children to renew their faith in Jesus Christ the Master of history, and to work in order to make the church a partner in promoting love, truth and peace, because whoever works for peace can only get closer to God.