04/23/2018, 10.18
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Card. Raï in Qatar, meets emir and sets the foundation stone of the church of Saint Charbel

The cardinal concluded the four-day visit to Doha. He officially started the construction of the first Maronite church in the country. Al-Thani emphasizes the importance of "coexistence" between different faiths. A volume for the national library of Qatar on the roots of Christianity. The appeal to expatriate fellow citizens: Do not be afraid to take risks.

Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Maronite Patriarch Card. Bechara Raï yesterday concluded a four-day pastoral visit to Doha, where he laid the foundation stone for the construction of the future church of Saint Charbel. This is the first place of worship in the emirate for the Maronite community; it stands on land offered by the Qatari authorities.

Before returning to Beirut, the head of the Maronite Church was received by the Emir of Qatar Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani and by the foreign minister (and vice-prime minister) Mohammad ben Abdel Rahman al-Thani. Previously the cardinal had met Prime Minister and Interior Minister Abdallah ben Khalifa al-Thani.

The cardinal and the leaders of the emirate - for almost a year at the center of a very harsh confrontation with other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have deepened bonds between the two realities, with special attention dedicated to the almost 30 thousand Lebanese residents in Doha.

While in the capital the cardinal also visited the Islamic museum and participated in a gala dinner offered by the Lebanese ambassador in his honor. In the context of the event, he launched an appeal for participation in the general elections on May 6 .

"The leaders of Qatar want to visit Lebanon - said the head of the Maronite Church at the conclusion of the visit - and the emir promised to settle the issue concerning residence permits" for the Lebanese who want to move to the emirate. The cardinal renewed his thanks to the leaders of the country, for offering land for the construction of the church.

In turn, the Emir of Qatar al-Thani called the cardinal's visit to the country "successful". He also underlined "the importance of coexistence among the different religions in the Arab world", defining it as a "unique peculiarity" of its kind.

Card. Raï, accompanied by the bishops Boulos Sayyah and Samir Mazloum, described the journey as an essential moment of "rapprochement" between Lebanon and Qatar. Speaking of the laying of the foundation stone, the cardinal added that "the saints draw people close. The Emir knows well that Saint Charbel will strengthen the bonds of friendship between Lebanon and Qatar ". He gave a precious volume to the national library of Qatar entitled "The roots of Christianity", which is added to the million volumes that enrich the cultural centre.

Before leaving the country, Card. Raï called on his fellow citizens who live and work in Qatar to launch new projects, without being afraid of possible risks. "Do not be afraid of the projects you want to start. Launch them - the prelate concluded - even with small sums, even with only one dollar".

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