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    » 01/03/2006, 00.00

    LEBANON - SYRIA

    Sfeir and Ignatius IV preach peace in beleaguered Mid-East

    Youssef Hourany

    The Maronite Patriarch drew attention to the urgent need to distance oneself from hate and the language of death, while his Greek-Orthodox counterpart in Antioch criticized those "who preach collaboration and do nothing but commit massacres and murders".

    Beirut (AsiaNews) – Peace in the Middle-East is undergoing a highly critical period in many countries, from the Holy Land to Iraq, from Syria to Lebanon. This precarious peace and the prevalent link between current problems and international interests – that "value the object more than the subject" – were at the heart of homilies given by religious leaders in Lebanon and Syria.

    In Bkerke in Lebanon, the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, illustrated the significance of the Pope's message for the World Day of Peace, insisting upon the need of living values of peace and distancing oneself from hate and the language of death. He reiterated the perennial stand taken by the Church, which preaches peace and tolerance, without forgetting the duty to safeguard those who are vulnerable and defenceless.  

    Meanwhile, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius IV Hazim, during a homily delivered in the "Al Mariamieh" Cathedral in Damascus, criticized those who "preach collaboration and do nothing except commit massacres and murders".

    The first day of 2006 appeared different to those of previous years, because in no country of the Middle East were there any signs of that joyfulness which usually marks festivities in the region. The negative developments in many countries weigh heavy, as does the economic crisis which has affected the region for several months now.

    Cardinal Sfeir was critical of the many "authorities in this world who jeopardize the future of humanity by backing rebels" and he observed with sadness the "advances in the arms trade, which is a dangerous development".

    The Patriarch also had hard words for governments which promote the spread of fundamentalist movements in many places of the region, defining them as "movements which defame the face of God". The Patriarch appealed to all to promote dialogue and understanding among all peoples, pointing to principles to realize this dialogue: sincerity, faith in God, tolerance and welcome of the other, mercy, transparency, faithfulness, keeping one's word, the rejection of evil and the search for good.

    Ignatius IV Hazim reiterated his full adherence to principles preached by many men of goodwill – who favour peace and understanding – and he called the attention of Syrian and Lebanese leaders to the need for sincere collaboration and the urgency of starting a new journey based on the human and religious values preached by Christianity and Islam.

    The Patriarch of Antioch warned against the dangers threatening the region, urging all to forget the past and to turn to the future, criticizing those people who plant mischief instead of the good that should be sought after by all.

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    See also

    04/03/2005 LEBANON - SYRIA
    Lebanon becomes once again a model for the Middle East
    Druze asking Christians for forgiveness; Christians praying for Sunnis: Lebanon's peaceful revolution is a source of hope for democracy in the entire Middle East. The "land of cedars" remains the best example of coexistence in the region. But the international community is needed. Fr Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit, is a professor of the History of Arab Culture and Islamic Studies at Beirut's Saint-Joseph University.

    11/10/2013 MIDDLE EAST
    Four-way power play to decide Middle East future
    The US-Russian deal on Syrian chemical weapons and the rapprochement between Washington and Tehran have reshuffled the cards in the region. The phone call that "changed everything" between Obama and Rouhani is changing the loose fault-lines. Christians are in favour of the change, seeing in it a glimmer of peace, the result of God's hand "in human history."

    16/01/2006 LEBANON - SYRIA
    Sfeir: "Danger is at our door, let's stop terrorism"

    From Bkerke, the Maronite Patriarch denounced the "terrorist acts which revive memories among the Lebanese of events already seen in the past". The government crisis in Beirut is in full swing, while Damascus prepares to welcome Ahmadinejad.



    21/10/2006 MIDDLE EAST
    Catholic Patriarchs: political instability prompts Christians to migrate from East

    The leaders of the Mid-Eastern Churches reiterated a unique feature of their communities as a connection between Christianity and Islam. They called on the Muslim world to firmly condemn terrorism that harms Islam itself above all else.



    14/11/2011 RUSSIA - SYRIA - LEBANON
    Patriarch Kirill on 'peace mission' to Middle East
    After a visit to Syria, Lebanon is next. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church prays for the dialogue between churches and between Christians and Muslims and meets political leaders to "restore stability".



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