For the current Maronite primate Card Bechara al-Rahi the decision is "a source of pride" for the country and the Lebanese around the world. The new venerable "fought" for the country’s independence and for the defence of its territory. The papal proclamation comes less than two months before the start of ceremonies that will mark Lebanon’s centennial.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis last Saturday authorised the promulgation of the decree recognising the heroic virtues of the servant of God, the late Maronite Patriarch Elias Peter Hoyek (Hoyaek). For the current Maronite Patriarch, Card Beshara al-Rahi, this is a "source of pride" for "Lebanon, the Maronites and the Lebanese around the world".
As the cardinal noted at a press briefing, Patriarch Hoyek was "the founding father" of Greater Lebanon, whose independence and defence he fought for, especially “the regions taken by the Ottomans, which essentially caused the great famine (1915-17)".
The Vatican decision is a source “of pride for Lebanon [. . .] at a time of political, economic and social decline,” the patriarch added. “Such good news is addressed to all Lebanese and Maronites in the world."
The cardinal hopes that this choice "will incite the Lebanese to live in faith and goodness", a warning that concerns in particular political leaders whose task is to ensure the well-being and future of the country and its citizens.
"Patriarch Hoyek fought for Lebanon, and it was he who gave birth to the very concept of our homeland and fought for the Greater Lebanon and for the unity of its territory," Card Rahi said.
"Those who are considered righteous by heaven and are declared blessed and holy belong to all of humanity. Saint Charbel offers us such a model, which is a source of grace for all communities, without any distinction."
The proclamation as "venerable" comes less than two months before the start, on 1st September, of centennial celebrations of the proclamation of Greater Lebanon.
This announcement represents a first step towards the cause of beatification, which requires the official recognition of a miracle.
Born in Helta on 4 December 1843, Elias Hoyek took the reins of the Maronite Church as the 72nd patriarch in 1899, which he led until his death in Bkerké, the current patriarchal see, on Christmas Eve 1931.
His remains lay in Ibrine, inside the chapel of the religious congregation he founded.
In the decree recognising his heroic virtues, the Vatican stressed his strong patriotism and action in favour of the country’s independence.
The late patriarch in fact represented the people of Mount Lebanon at the Versailles Conference, under the auspices of the countries that won the First World War.