I would like to address this message to the American administration and to its leaders, as America is known to be the protector of democracy around the world who upholds and promotes human rights, human dignity and freedom for all.
Lebanon is the only democratic country in the Middle East. In the past it was the door through which the United States connected to the Middle East. Lebanon cannot carry the weight of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which left half a million refugees in the country.
Lebanon cannot carry the weight of another 1.5 million refugees from Syria. That totals 2 million refugees in a country that contains 4 million nationals.This refugee situation tips the scales, negatively impacting the social environment and circumventing democracy.
America should not and cannot afford to allow Lebanon to fall a victim to what is happening in the region. America should seek to preserve Lebanon because it is the platform for democracy where multiple cultures, societies, and religions coexist. I launch this appeal and frankly cry out to the nations of the world:If they really wish to uphold human rights, human dignity, freedom and democracy in the world, they must support Lebanon, a country that was founded on these principles. Lebanon is a member and a founder of the United Nations, as well as a member and a founder of the United Arab League. Lebanon should not become the scapegoat for local and regional conflicts.
We implore the world to seek an end to all wars in the Middle East, to return all refugees to their homelands and, most of all, to allow Lebanon to resume its role as a center for multicultural religious and social life.
Lebanon belongs not to itself, but to all nations as a beacon of light for freedom and coexistence among many religions. Lebanon should remain a place of hope and continue its mission of moderation. We would like to applaud and commend the Evangelical Churches for the role that they are playing in Lebanon. For here they have established multiple forms of institutions such as schools, colleges and universities. I would like to thank them for their contributions and ask them to continue their mission to benefit our society.The Christian presence in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and the Holy Lands and in the whole region of the Middle East should not be forgotten by the nations of the world.
After all, Christians have been in this location for 2000 years, and as Christians we reject the notion that we are a minority because we are natives in our land and the region. We existed here 600 years before Islam came to exist.Despite conflicts, Christians and Muslims coexisted for the past 1400 years and succeeded in forming communities that lived in peace, with both contributing to social life.
As the Maronite Church, we were given the responsibility to protect and to unite. We labored very hard in all sectors of life and led multiple corporations, businesses, schools, hospitals and universities, through which the example of Christian leadership in the Middle East promoted democracy and moderation in the Muslim world. Consequently the Christian presence in the Middle East is crucial especially now to avoid extremism in Islam.
I implore God's blessings upon all.
Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai,
Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
Patriarchal Residence June 27- 2015
His Eminence and Beatitude Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Maronite Church Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church President of the Assembly of Eastern Patriarchs and Bishops President of the Middle East Assembly of Orthodox and Catholic Patriarchs
America must recognize the role of Lebanon
to bring about peace in the Middle East
Statement of Appeal by Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East