Card. Raï says Baabda meeting fueled divisions, calls for a global conference

The Cardinal blames "lack of adequate preparation" for failure of the president's meeting and calls for "shared unity" to "save society from hunger, misery, deprivation", to face challenges and reconcile the nation.  A warning over episode involving US ambassador: the sentence stains the image of the judiciary and is contrary to the Constitution.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Baabda national meeting "unfortunately worsened the political rift" within the country due to the "lack of adequate preparation," says the Maronite patriarch, Card.  Beshara Raï,  referring to the recent "reconciliation summit" convoked by President Michel Aoun. In reality the gathering only exacerbated the internal divisions in Lebanon with a boycott of Sunnis and opposition Christians.

The Cardinal has also intervened on the controversy regarding the judicial sentence against the US ambassador to Lebanon.  In recent days, a judge in Tire, a Shiite majority city in the south, banned Lebanese and foreign media from interviewing Dorothy Shea for a year.  The US diplomat had attacked the pro-Iranian Hezbollah in the press.  "Freedom of expression" recalled Card Raï, is an element that "characterizes" the nation in the region.

In his Sunday homily the Patriarch observed that freedom of speech, is "sanctioned by the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose preamble was conceived by the Lebanese Charles Malek during the presidency of the UN General Assembly in 1948 ".  He continued "We are very disappointed by the judicial sentence, which has banned a diplomatic figure who represents a world power from having the right to express opinions".  This ruling, he says, "stains the image of the Lebanese judiciary and is contrary to the Constitution".

Regarding the theme of the national meeting, the cardinal stressed that it was born with the aim of "preserving political integrity and the democratic system", thanks also to a "joint union of efforts" to "save society from hunger, misery  and deprivation ".  "However - he adds - due to the lack of adequate preparation it has increased the internal political divisions".

Pope Francis is also concerned by this emerging reality and  yesterday renewed the call to improve the "dramatic situation" of the Syrians and the Lebanese, inviting political leaders to "responsibility" in view of the fourth Conference of the European Union and the UN  scheduled for tomorrow.  In spite of the errors and shortcomings of the ruling class, Patriarch Raï addresses the young people asking them to "resist" and promote "unity and solidarity" with the institutions, to overcome the drama "of despair and migration".

Finally, the Cardinal renewed his appreciation for the efforts promoted by President Michel Aoun with a view to dialogue and reconciliation;  if the failure of the Baabda meeting is evident, the Cardinal suggests proceeding with the preparation of a "global national conference, in coordination with ally nations" that will permit all of the actors involved "to face the challenges and reconcile" within the Arab family and in an international context.  The government has the task of "restoring internal and external trust" to revive structural reforms.