Thank You Benedict XVI For All You've Done For The Sake Of The Maronite Church

In Almost eight years of pontificate, the Maronite church has always been in the Pope's heart and mind. Seven major events dedicated to the maronite church throughout Benedict XVI's pontificate show the attachment of the Holy Father to this oriental church and its importance to the Vatican.

On December 17, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI recognized Brother Estephan Nehme "Venerable". Furthermore, the Pope convened the congregation for the causes of saints to be held in the Vatican to study the process of the beatification of Brother Estephan. Theological experts voted unanimously for the healing miracle attributed to him which is the healing of Sister Marina Nehme, his brother’s daughter, from osteosarcoma (bone cancer). 

On June 23, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI Beatified Abouna Yaacoub Haddad Al Kabbouchi, making him "Venerable" and one step closer to sainthood. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Downtown Beirut to witness the beatification of the late Capuchin priest who gained fame for his prolific work. This Founder of an order of nuns expanded the Capuchin school network and established a number of religious and social institutions, some of which have gained iconic status in Lebanon. 

Then on June 27, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI recognized Brother Estephan Nehme "Blessed" on the altar of the Lord and a solemn ceremony took place at the Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justine in Kfifane, presided by Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. Prefect of the Congregation for the causes of saints by a special appointment from the Pope. He said during the ceremony: "Dear brothers, let us count on God, source of all graces and blessings, asking Him to lift Brother Estephan to the rank of saints so that he joins his saint brothers in the Lebanese Maronite Order: Charbel, Rafka and Nehmatalah. As Saint Paul says: “The crown of Glory is kept for you”, you loyal servant and faithful monk. 

On February 23, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI marked 16 centuries on the death of the father of the Maronite Church by unveiling a statue of Saint Maron on the outer wall of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and by blessing it. The presence of Saint Maron's Statue in the Vatican is highly symbolic as it occupies the last available niche in the outer perimeter of Saint Peter's Basilica and therefore closes the list of Saints that surround the tomb of Saint Peter near the place of his martyrdom on the Vatican hill.

On September 14 to 16, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI made in Lebanon the last of his missionary journeys of his pontificate signing the apostolic exhortation "Church in the Middle East, communion and witness" in order to confirm the vocation of Lebanon and its key role in the region. This apostolic journey had a huge success even though it occurred  at difficult and complicated circumstances in Lebanon.

On November 24, 2012, the Pope elevated to the dignity of Cardinal the Maronite Patriarch "in order to give further impetus to his patriarchal ministry, within the universal Church". It was the last consistory for the creation of cardinals for Benedict XVI, creating six new Cardinals all of them non Europeans, and it took place at Saint Peter's basilica.

Finally The Pope entrusted to the Lebanese youth (under the guidance of the patriarch,) to prepare the meditations for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum which will be celebrated on the night of Good Friday, which falls on 29 March 2013. This initiative has been strongly desired by Benedict XVI, as a sign of recognition for the meeting of September 15, 2012 in Bkerke with Lebanese youth, who "deeply touched his heart."

Seven Joyful and holy events for eight years of pontificate, almost one event every year dedicated to the Maronite Church. It would be difficult to imagine what more could have been done by a Pope to support Maronites! The Holy Father did it to the maximum extent possible.
Benedict XVI, we thank you, we love you and we will always pray for you.

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