Bkerkè (Agenzia Fides) – The recent embrace on 12 February in Cuba between Pope Francis and the Orthodox Patriarch Moscow Kirill, and their Joint Declaration represent “an ecumenical and prophetic step” taken by the two bishops “prompted by a shared sense of responsibility”. This was affirmed by the Bishops of the Maronite Church in a statement issued at the end of their monthly assembl, held 2 March at the Patriarchal head office in Bkerkè, presided by Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai. In the statement sent to Fides, the Maronite Bishops thank the Bishop of Rome for the concern shown regarding the presence of Christians in the Middle East and the defence of the “common civilisation built by Christians and Muslims in the Middle East region”.
During their monthly meeting – attended also by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, as President of Caritas Internationalis, – the Maronite Bishops expressed concern for the recent reappearance in Lebanon of sectarian polarisation connected with regional conflict between Sciiti and Sunniti, and they launched an urgent appeal to keep the armed forces out of tensions of political and religious nature.
Regarding the institutional paralysis which since May 2014 impedes the election of a new President of Lebanon, the Maronite Synod warn about the danger of a ‘collapse’ of the entire Lebanese system, calling on political and parliamentary groups to assume their national responsibilities and not subject the destiny of Lebanon to “foreign interests”. In the statement, the Maronite Bishops deplore the defamatory campaign unleashed against presumed “administrative ambiguities” during past management of Caritas Lebanon, underlining that the "loving service” offered by Caritas in the land of Cedars “is stronger than any attempt to defame it in the eyes of public opinion ". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 3/3/2016).