Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, and the head of the Maronite Church, gave an overview of the situation in Lebanon during a visit to the UK, explaining that the country needs help from the United Nations and called for a resolution to address the situation in Palestine.
Patriarch al-Rahi, who visited the UK in a trip organised by Fellowship and Aid to the Christians of the East (FACE), said Lebanon in the past had been “exposed to greed” and was “a venue for wars, hostilities, occupation, assassinations and injustices.”
Now the country is facing a “demographic problem and an economic problem” due to shocking inflation, and having to take in millions of refugees from Syria and Palestinian which has put a strain on the country.
The Patriarch said: “In order to protect Lebanon, keep it secure, stable and united it ought to be removed from regional and international conflicts, while remaining committed to legitimate Arab just causes, particularly the Palestinian cause, and to the United Nations resolutions.”
“We ask the United Nations to call for a Special International Conference on Lebanon,” he added.
Such a conference, according to Patriarch al-Rahi, would support “devising a solution for the Palestinian problem; the facilitation and encouragement of Syrian repatriation and their assistance in their own country; the declaration of the positive neutrality of Lebanon through a Security Council Declaration.”
Patriarch al-Rahi also had some warm words for the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who visited Lebanon in 2012.
Explaining how the speech of any pope “carries a lot of weight,” he said: “The pope made three main speeches, besides his sermon. He spoke about the importance of Lebanon and the identity.
“If you read his speeches you will see a lot of his ideas being held [today]. The speeches of any pope in any country have a permanent impact.”
Patriarch al-Rahi asked people in the UK to “invest in Lebanon”, advocate on the country’s behalf, and support a two-state solution in Palestine.
He finished by saying: “I can assure you that the Maronites present throughout the world are carrying the cause of Lebanon with them.”