Follow usTwitterFacebook

Latest

26 Sep 2016 News No comments

Mark Wahlberg planning biopic of ex-boxer who became a beloved priest

The actor is teaming up with director David O Russell on a screenplay about Fr Stuart Long's life Mark Wahlberg is an unusual figure in Hollywood: an acting su…

Read more

04 Nov 2016 News No comments

Prisoners to be Pope’s VIP guests for jubilee celebration

Sunday's special Jubilee for Prisoners will be celebrated at the Vatican, drawing detainees and their families from around Italy and beyond, including Cincinnat…

Read more

08 Jul 2015 Articles No comments

Papal fallibility and infallibility

A museum curator showed me a contemporary copy of the papal bull "Inter Caetera" by which Pope Alexander VI divided the world between Spain and Portugal with a …

Read more

08 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (5)

Does the Sunday observance begin on Saturday evening, in imitation of the Jewish sabbath?

Full Question In ancient Judaism the sabbath was from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. If Sunday is the Christian sabbath, should we celebrate it …

Read more

01 Oct 2014 Vatican No comments

Family synod an opportunity to support marriage, scholars urge

Vatican City, Oct 1, 2014 / 04:07 am .- Law professors, family advocates and clergy have asked those participating in the upcoming synod of bishops to consider …

Read more

08 Mar 2016 News Vatican No comments

Pope Francis to preside over public consistory to approve canonization of 'Saint of the Gutters'

The Vatican has announced that the Holy Father will convene over an ordinary public consistory of cardinals on March 15 where he is expected to sign the decrees…

Read more

09 Mar 2016 Europe News United Kingdom USA Vatican Comments (1)

Britain's Catholic Church leader says Government's tactics to combating terrorism risk doing extreme damage

The leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols shared his reflections during a lecture last night and said that the Government…

Read more

05 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Pope opens Synod of Bishops with call to blend tradition with mercy

Pope Francis opened this year’s Synod of Bishops on the family Sunday with a stirring defense of traditional marriage coupled with an insistence that the Church…

Read more

16 May 2016 USA No comments

Alabama governor praised for signing bill to ban dismemberment abortions

Gov Robert Bentley signed a second bill that prohibits abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of schools Alabama Gov Robert Bentley last week signed…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
«
»

Patriarch urges refugee repatriation as long-term solution in Middle East

Destitute refugees now comprise half the people living in Lebanon, Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, has said during his visit to New York.

He added that refugees are attractive targets for terrorist recruiting, and their continued presence threatens to drown Lebanon’s identity, he said.

Cardinal Rai spoke yesterday at Catholic Near East Welfare Association headquarters in New York while in the United States for a pastoral visit.

A permanent solution to the refugee crises throughout the Middle East requires lasting peace and the repatriation of refugees, not resettlement to third countries, he added.

“A political solution to the conflicts ought to be the top priority, and a just, global and permanent peace should be established as soon as possible,” the Lebanese cardinal said.

“We would ask nations to help refugees where they are; but it’s not enough to help, they should also stop wars, because every day we are at war, we’re creating new refugees,” Cardinal Rai said. “We must find a just, global and lasting peace for refugees, repatriate them and help them rebuild their lives and businesses.”

“The longer we delay the solutions, the more open we become to terrorism, because terrorists recruit among the refugees,” Cardinal Rai said. The refugees need money and the terrorists pay them, he explained.

The conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims is the largest conflict in the region, with Saudi Arabia representing the Sunni faction and Iran the Shia, Cardinal Rai said.

The United States could play an important role mediating peace between the two countries, he said.

In Syria, reconciliation will only be accomplished when the foreign factions that entered the conflict reconcile their own differences, practice justice, and recognise the humanity of those affected.

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the origin of the Middle Eastern problems” and could be solved through “the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon,” the patriarch said.

“You cannot really come to agreement or establish peace without justice,” he said.

“The separation between religion and state for both Judaism and Islam is one of the basic conditions for a permanent political solution in the region,” he said.

When a country has an official religion, “you are in deep trouble because you are automatically excluding citizens who do not confess the religion of the state,” he said.

Cardinal Rai said, “Despite all the difficulties plaguing the Lebanese system,” it could be a model for the workable separation of church and state.”

It is the only country in the Middle East without either a state religion or requirement that the head of state must be a Muslim. Under an agreement forged in 1943, Christians and Muslims in Lebanon “live together on an equal basis” and share leadership of the government, he said.

There are 18 distinct religious groups in the country and all are recognised in the parliament.

Under the agreement, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the parliament a Shia Muslim. Nonetheless, the Lebanese presidency has been vacant since May 2014.

Cardinal Rai said Islamic nations cause great harm to Islam by acting as “silent observers, simply looking and doing nothing about the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and all terrorist organisations.”

Sunnis and Shias should condemn attacks on Christian and ethnic and religious minorities, including the violation of their churches, homes and possessions, he said.

Christians and Muslims have lived together in the Middle East for 1,400 years. In recent years, most of the Christians in Iraq and Syria have been killed or displaced by international military, ethnic and racial conflicts in which they took no sides, but paid the heaviest price, Cardinal Rai said. Despite the circumstances, Christians remain attached to their lands, and committed to Gospel values, Christian witness and cooperation with their compatriots, he said.

“The absence of Christians from the Middle East, or the weakening of their cultural influence, will certainly impoverish both Christians and Muslims, as it harms the culture of dialogue and coexistence,” the patriarch said.

Cardinal Rai said the international community bears significant responsibility for the conflict in Syria because some members give monetary, military political or personnel support to terrorist organisations who take the conflicts to neighbouring countries and Western nations, and make terrorism a global problem.

Cardinal Rai is the leader of the Lebanon-based Maronite Catholic Church, the largest of six Eastern Catholic patriarchal churches.

There are more than 3 million members worldwide, approximately 85,000 of whom live in the United States.

Lebanon is the size of the state of Connecticut. The country’s 4 million inhabitants are host to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and 500,000 Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians began to arrive more than 30 years ago for what was anticipated to be a temporary stay.

The presence of so many refugees is destabilising, according to Archbishop Paul Sayah, vicar general of the patriarchate.

Suicide bombings in a Christian village in northeast Lebanon yesterday killed at least five people and are an example of what could happen more frequently if refugees are not repatriated, he said.

“I don’t know how Lebanon is surviving. It’s a miracle it’s still functioning. The refugees are living in misery. No human should be subjected to such misery,” he said.

“The problem is we are making refugees of the Lebanese,” Cardinal Rai said. Lebanese are leaving the country because of economic stress.

He said Syrians will work for half the wages, their shops will sell goods for half the profit and they don’t pay taxes.

“Our cultural identity is threatened by the presence of the refugees,” he said.

Cardinal Rai said Catholic aid is crucial to the people of Lebanon. Citing Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Catholic Relief Services and Aid to the Church in Need, Cardinal Rai said, “If they don’t do it, it’s not getting done. The vast majority of people being helped are non-Christian and the vast majority of the helpers are Christian.”

by









wpsd_autopost:
1

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories