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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
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

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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