Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - The Christians of Lebanon and the Middle East, worried about their future, should avoid giving credit to fallacious theories such as the "alliance among minorities" and would do well to choose their own guidelines as those present in the two apostolic Ehortations addressed to them by Popes John Paul II (1997) and Benedict XVI (2013). These suggestions were expressed by the Lebanese President, Michel Sleiman during a ceremony held on Friday 15 November in Bkerké, at the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate, on the occasion of the publication of a book on Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon (13-15 September 2012). "As Christians", said President Sleiman "we should apply the apostolic Exhortations rather than trying other ways, other mechanisms and other projects". "This", added Sleiman "means safeguarding the 'establishment' of the Lebanese in the Arab world in which they find themselves".
Among the prospects and guiding criteria mentioned in the papal exhortations, the Lebanese leader pointed out the integration in the Arab context, the struggle for human values and for the enlargement of space for real democracy, openness to others, the alternation to power through free elections. As Fides learns, Sleiman also listed the four "no’s" that should guide Christians who are eager to stay in the Middle East: no to self-retreat and isolationism, "that are not Christian values"; no to assimilation, "which contradicts the particular richness of Christians"; no "to the use of foreign protection and autocratic regimes", and no also to the theories on "alliance among minorities".
The ceremony was also attended by the Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon Msg. Gabriele Caccia and the Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai. In his speech, Patriarch Rai paid tribute to the "prophetic impulse" that marked Benedict XVI’s Lebanese days, who "wanted the journey in Lebanon to be the last of his apostolic journeys". Pope Ratzinger - said the Head of the Maronite Church - recognized with clarity that the Lebanese balance proposed as a model "is very delicate and can break under material or sectarian pressure unrelated to the core characteristics of Lebanon". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 18/11/2013)