ASIA/LEBANON - General election: Maronite bishops demand conditions for peaceful process

Thursday, 5 May 2022 middle east   oriental churches   politics   elections   area crisis  

Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - The leaders of the Lebanese institutions and political parties are called to ensure that the parliamentary elections on May 15th take place peacefully, so that voters can exercise their constitutional rights, said the Bishops of the Maronite Church, who met on Wednesday, May 4 at the Patriarchate of Bkerké, for their monthly meeting, presided over by Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï.
The bishops of the Maronite Church - reads the 6-point statement released at the end of the meeting - hope that any potential obstacle to the proper conduct of the electoral process will be removed, recognizing that only an expression of the will of the people, free from any form of conditioning and intimidation, will enable the country to change course and avert the national collapse that seems to be looming over the Land of Cedars. Earlier, in his homily last Sunday, May 1, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Harissa, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï asked for active participation in elections if they really want to protect their right to self-determination and preserve the future of the country from groups that strive for the collapse of Lebanon and to erase its historical identity.
In the statement, the Maronite Bishops also deplored the inaction of the national political-institutional class, which did not implement the reforms required to start cooperation between Lebanon and the International Monetary Fund and thus try to implement the economic recovery plan required to save the country from the economic-financial collapse. The Maronite bishops also expressed their condolences to the families of the dozens of Syrian migrants who died in the recent tragedy that took place off the coast south of Tripoli, when the boat in which they were trying to leave Lebanon sank. According to the Maronite Bishops, all necessary measures must be taken to target the gangs that profit from human trafficking, "exploiting the misery and desperation of people and exposing them to the risk of losing their lives". The Maronite bishops also recall that the Church dedicates the month of May every year to honoring the Virgin Mary, and they invite all the baptized "to revive this month with prayer, sobriety and acts of charity, asking God, through his intercession, to give humanity mercy, joy and peace, as fruits of Redemption". The communiqué of the Maronite Bishops does not contain any reference to the possibility of a papal visit to the Land of Cedars, which at the beginning of April had been considered imminent by various parties. The first rumor of an upcoming visit by Pope Francis to Lebanese soil circulated via Twitter by the office of Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Tuesday, April 5. "The Lebanese", stressed the Head of State in a statement released by the Presidential Palace, "have waited a long time for this visit to express their gratitude for His Holiness's attention to Lebanon, for the initiatives he has taken for the country and for the prayers he offered for its peace and stability". On Tuesday evening, April 5, the director of the Vatican Press Office, Matteo Bruni, responded to a question from some journalists about a possible upcoming trip by the Pope to Lebanon that such a possibility "is a hypothesis under consideration". The Maronite Bishops, at the conclusion of their monthly meeting held on April 6 at the patriarchal see of Bkerké, expressed in the usual final communiqué their "joy at the news of Pope Francis' visit to Lebanon scheduled for next June". Awaiting the details of the official program of the Pope's visit, the bishops of the Maronite Church - as they write in their April 6 communiqué - "ask God for his blessing and for the realization of all the wishes of Pope Francis for the good of Lebanon and all Lebanese". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/5/2022)