ASIA/LEBANON - New meetings between newly elected President Aoun and the heads of Churches

Thursday, 17 November 2016 oriental churches   politics   international politics

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - While in Lebanon there are increasing signs of the imminent presentation of a new government, led by the Sunni Premier Saad Hariri, newly elected President Michel Aoun, after meeting Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai already days before the election, continues the series of meetings with representatives of the Churches and ecclesial communities who visit him to congratulate him on his election and submit assessments on the current delicate moment experienced by the Country, struggling with trying to gradually get out from the political-institutional block of recent years.
Yesterday, Aoun received the delegation of the Greek-Melkite Church, led by Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, and that of the Syrian Catholic Church, led by Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan. On 10 November Aoun had already received a delegation of the Syrian Orthodox Church, led by Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, who had asked the just elected President to relaunch the initiative to know the fate of the two Bishops of Aleppo - Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi – who disappeared in April 2013 in an area of Syria controlled by anti-Assad militiamen, and encourage, if this is still possible, their release.
Last January (see Fides 22/01/2016), the Primates of the two Syrian-Antiochene Churches - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan - had already met with Aoun as leader of the Free patriotic Movement during quick round of consultations with the leaders of the Lebanese political Parties carried out by them to demand that a seat in the national parliament is to be reserved for a politician belonging to the Syrian Orthodox Church, and another guaranteed according to regulation to a representative of the Syrian Catholic community.
The system of parliamentary "quotas" guaranteed to Christian minorities has been in place in several Arab Muslim-majority countries, such as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. In Lebanon, the delicate Lebanese institutional system reserves the office of President of the Republic to a Christian Maronite. The Ta'if agreement, which in 1989 marked the end of the season of the civil war, ordered the numerical equality between the reserved parliamentary seats to Christian and Muslim deputies. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 17/11/2016)