Christian leaders tell the government that the people must not pay the price of the crisis

On Orthodox Easter, Lebanon’s Greek Orthodox Metropolitan slammed the country’s political leaders. The latter must revive the economy but ordinary Lebanese must not pay for their mistakes. Rumours that the authorities plan to take money from depositors have caused widespread anger. For Maronite Patriarch al-Rahi, ordinary people are paying the price of the tug-of-war between politicians and banks.

Beirut (AsiaNews/OLJ) – Lebanon’s Christian leaders, Catholic and non-Catholic, do not want ordinary people to pay the price for past mistakes made by the country’s leaders.

They spoke out yesterday, Orthodox Easter Sunday, as Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government appears incapable of addressing the country’s political crisis.

"The government must show wisdom, patience and courage to get rid of all allegiances, except allegiance to its people,” said Elias Audi, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the coronavirus epidemic will throw Lebanon’s already weak economy into recession. Its GDP contracted by 6.5 per cent last year, and is expected to shrink by another 12 per cent this year.

To deal with the crisis, the cabinet met last week to discuss a controversial plan that includes a special contribution from depositors.

When unconfirmed reports about it appeared in the media, the government had to calm a rising tide of anger among ordinary Lebanese.

Prime Minister Diab and his cabinet said that 98 per cent of all depositors would not be affected by the plan, that the poorest and neediest groups would be protected, this in a country that has carried the burden of Syrian refugees more than others.

Speaking to the faithful on Orthodox Easter celebrated yesterday, Metropolitan Elias Audi said that "the government must lead Lebanon out of the crisis" without people “paying the price of the mistakes made by those in power.”

Seizing assets is "inconceivable" and politicians have the task of "acting for everyone, not only for some people, a community or a party.”

“We are praying for our leaders to fight other viruses besides coronavirus, primarily corruption and greed" on the basis of “the principle of social justice".

The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Beshara Al-Rahi, also spoke about the issue yesterday. In his homily in yesterday’s Mass in Bkerké, he urged his fellow citizens to support the government's efforts whilst insisting that they not be the scapegoat of the crisis.

“Whether we like it or not, the cabinet represents the authority (of the state) at this time of exceptional crisis,” said the cardinal. “It can succeed in its mission only if we support it.” At the same time, it must show “solidity and independence”.

For Patriarch Al-Rahi, reforms must be implemented “in the interest of the Lebanese" and not "at the detriment of their lives". The “fight between political leaders and the banks at the expense of ordinary Lebanese must end.”