ASIA/LEBANON - Aoun meets the Pope while Lebanese Maronite Christians call for more political representation

Thursday, 16 March 2017 oriental churches   politics   religious minorities  


Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun was received today, Thursday, March 16, by Pope Francis in the Vatican. In the course of the visit, Michel Aoun also met with the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and other officials of the Holy See. The President’s visit will be the first of a tour of Europe, after his appointment as head of the Lebanese state , which took place on 31 October 2016.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Bishops and senior members of Christian Churches in Lebanon next to the prominent Maronite Church, met at the headquarters of the Chaldean Eparchy of Beirut and together signed an appeal to President Aoun and Lebanese political forces, in which they ask for the guarantee of an adequate representation in political and administrative institutions for their own communities of faithful. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Chaldean Church - including Bishop Michel Kassarji, of the Latin Catholic community - Bishop Cesar Essayan OFM Conv, Apostolic Vicar - and Assyrian, Syrian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Catholic and Coptic Orthodox Churches. In particular, the document signed by those present, and consulted by Agenzia Fides, says that the Churches represented by those present will not support any new electoral law - an issue currently at the center of the Lebanese political debate – which does not provide for the rule to reserve at least 3 parliamentary seats to representatives of Christian communities other than the Maronite community. The signatories of the appeal also announced joint initiatives and mobilizations so that the members of their respective communities are not discriminated against in the distribution of seats and positions within the political and administrative institutions of the Country of the cedars.
Already last May (see Fides 11/5/2016) the Primates of the two Syro-Antiochene Churches - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Youssif III Younan - had signed a joint document containing the request to ensure a greater presence in offices and public works to members of the two Christian communities, avoiding overt or covert discrimination of any sort. Before that, in January, (see Fides 22/01/2016), the two Patriarchs had submitted the same request to their counterparts in the round of talks that they had carried out jointly with the leaders of the various national political forces, at a time still marked by the election paralysis and the vacancy of the presidential office.
According to the delicate Lebanese institutional system, the position of President of the Republic is entitled to a Christian Maronite. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 16/03/2017)