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» 02/15/2005
LEBANON - VATICAN
Patriarch and Vatican's nuncio offer their condolences to Hariri's family
Maronite bishops to hold an extraordinary synod tomorrow on the country's dramatic situation after Hariri's assassination. Newspapers published photos of former p.m. with John Paul II.

Beirut (AsiaNews) -  Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and apostolic nuncio Archbishop Luigi Gatti visited the Hariri family today to offer their condolences for the death of the former, Sunni prime minister, killed yesterday by a car-bomb explosion.

In a statement released earlier today, Patriarch Sfeir said: "This crime goes against our traditions, and Hariri's death goes to the exclusive advantage of Lebanon's enemies.  The Maronite Church shares in the family's mourning, and shall not forget the important role played by Hariri in national politics. His legacy will be kept alive in Lebanon's memory."

The patriarch has convoked for tomorrow an extraordinary synod of Maronite bishops, at Bkerke: the bishops' meeting will be on the social implications of yesterday's terrorist attack.

The Vatican's nuncio, Msgr Luigi Gatti, also went today to the Hariri home, located in the central area of Beirut west, accompanied by Archeparch Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite patriarch of Damascus. Msgr Gatti has always been very close to the Hariri family. The late Rafic Hariri himself had maintained close ties with the Christian world and the Vatican. Photos of Hariri with the Pope were published on the front-page of various Lebanese newspapers today.

Hariri died at the age of 60. He had resigned last October 20th, after weeks of tension and a political impasse related to a constitutional amendment, considered to be the result of Syrian pression, which extended President Emile Lahoud's mandate.

Currently, many segments of the population in Lebanon are accusing Syria of being behind Hariri's assassination. However, pro-Syria Interior Minister Suleiman Franjiyeh countered these interpretations, saying today in a press conference that "Hariri was not part of the block opposing Lahoud and Syria". According to Franjiyeh, Hariri was close to the opposition but was not an opponent, and had a "strategic, not tactical, problem" vis-à-vis the current government.

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See also
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People put aside their problems, pray for pope
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Anti-Syrian demonstration defies government ban
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Dialogue between opposition and pro-Syrian faction urgent, says Maronite Patriarch
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Papal telegram to Patriarch Sfeir for Rafik Hariri's death
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