Head-on clash between Patriarch Raï and Shiite groups over the Ministry of Finance

Without naming them, the cardinal attacks the groups that block the formation of the new executive by demanding certain ministries. He recalls Article 95 of the Constitution which establishes equality between Christians and Muslims, but "does not assign a ministry to a certain sect". Shiite Superior Council responds: "confessional provocations" from a highlevel religious leader.


Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A new chapter in the clash between the Maronite patriarch, Card Beshara Raï, and the two main Shiite factions Hezbollah and Amal, supported by the Shiite High Council, took place yesterday in Lebanon.

In his Sunday homily the cardinal, without naming them, attacked the two groups that are blocking the formation of the new government by demanding the finance portfolio for them. He addressed the Prime Minister in charge Moustapha Adib urging him to continue the consultations for a limited executive of independent politicians "and let the parliamentary process take its course" in accordance with the Constitution.

In the function celebrated at the church of Notre-Dame d'Ilij in Mayfouk (diocese of Jbeil), Card Beshara Raï criticised the two Shiite movements without naming them openly. At the same time, the cardinal left open the possibility - for the future - of a "revision of the Lebanese system, and of the division of prerogatives and roles".

The Shiite community has been lobbying for this debate, but the Maronite patriarch has laid down two conditions which both Amal and Hezbollah object to: to consecrate Lebanon's neutrality; state centralization of the use of the port and of weapons.

In the mass, dedicated to the memory of the "martyrs of the Lebanese resistance", Card Raï recalled the centrality of art. 95 of the Constitution, which "does not assign a ministry to a certain sect".

He pondered whether a new amendment can be "imposed by force" just as the two Shiite factions are trying to do. The cardinal explained that the article "only provides for equality between Christians and Muslims for leading administrative positions".

“Has this article - he added - been changed secretly or must the will of some be imposed by force? This is unacceptable in our Lebanese system”.

Finally, the head of the Maronite Church specifies that he does not want to take sides and does not want to attack any community, but to fight in the defence of the inspiring principles and values ​​of the State.

His battle of principle is directed against those who attack the rules and the legality itself of the nation and the collaboration between different entities and groups. The primary objective is to block the hegemony of a party that wants to assert its power, undermining the authority of a state deprived of its decision-making power and sovereignty itself.

Amal and Hezbollah did not reply directly to the words of the Maronite patriarch, but the Shiite Superior Council, the highest religious authority of the community, intervened in their support, which limited itself to criticizing the references to the Ministry of Finance. In a note released yesterday afternoon, the CSS criticizes the words of "a great religious authority" against the Shiite faction and "the deterioration of his speech, impregnated with confessional provocations and distorting the truth".

They claim the cardinal would have "bowed" to the dictates from abroad and would end up being "harmful to the country". "If we ask that the Shiite community maintain the Ministry of Finance, it is to preserve the national partnership" in the executive.

The document concludes with a call to citizenship and the end of sectarianism: "We have asked and we ask the abolition of political confessionalism and the approval of citizenship as a standard in political action, within a just state based on equal rights and duties and that it is independent of sectarian privileges ".

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