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» 12/27/2011
LEBANON
Patriarch Rai: A weapons-free Lebanon
by Paul Dakiki
At Christmas Mass the head of the Maronite Church asks that the country be "demilitarized". Hezbollah only armed militant group remaining. The Mass was attended by the head of state, Cardinal. Sfeir, the nuncio and Christian politicians of opposing factions, such as Aoun and Gemayel.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai hopes that the government will undertake to liberate Lebanon from all weapons, leaving the national military as the only armed force. During the Christmas Mass celebrated Dec. 25 in Bkerke, Patriarch Rai pointed out that "it is the duty of the state alone to ensure public security and peace in the country, by collecting all the weapons and placing them under the sole control of the legitimate forces of Lebanon, Beirut and all of Lebanon will be weapons free. "

The words of the head of the Maronite Church seem to accommodate the desires of many parliamentarians who during the year, requested a "demilitarized" Beirut - after fierce gun battles between Hezbollah and members of the Islamic charitable Burj Abi Haidar - as well as a Tripoli without weapons.

But the Patriarch’s emphasis was on the situation of Hezbollah, the only military group that has never given up their arms, pleading with the need to be ready to fight against Israel. In this regard, the Patriarch added, "The State must also submit all the missions of defense and security decisions to the political authority and build confidence in its armed forces."

The Christmas Mass was concelebrated by Patriarch Emeritus Nasfrallah Sfeir and also the nuncio in Lebanon, Mgr. Gabriel Hunt.

The liturgy was attended by the head of state, Michel Suleiman, as well as Catholic politicians who are active in opposing groups, including leader of Kataeb, Amin Gemayel, and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun, a close ally of Hezbollah.

In his homily Patriarch Rai also asked for more justice and less corruption in the country, as well as a commitment to promote the living conditions of the Lebanese, tried by the economic crisis. He has also called for the Lebanese who fled to Israel to return to Lebanon and appealed for an amnesty on their behalf.

In 2000, on the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon, many Lebanese, including the South Lebanon Army soldiers, took refuge in Israel, fearing reprisals. Last November Mikati's government passed a law that accepts the return of these Lebanese, but excludes those who have fought in the South Lebanon army.

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See also
07/09/2010 LEBANON
Security Council meets over attacks on UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon
11/14/2008 LEBANON
Hezbollah wants a referendum on its weapons
02/15/2008 LEBANON
Hezbollah threatens “open war” on Israel
09/30/2010 LEBANON - VATICAN
Maronite Patriarchate warns of “tension rising” to the point of conflict in Lebanon
by Fady Noun
09/02/2006 LEBANON – UN
Italian troops start landing in south Lebanon

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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