New bishops, pastoral care and political crisis at the centre of Maronite synod
by Fady Noun

After a six-day retreat, Maronite bishops from Lebanon and abroad, Patriarch included, began working on a number of issues, such as the liturgy, seminarians’ training as well as a plan for pastoral outreach and care for Caritas Lebanon. At the end of meeting, a final statement will be released.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The Holy Synod of the Maronite Church opened yesterday for its annual meeting at the patriarchal seat of Bkerké, chaired by the Maronite Patriarch, Card Bechara Boutros al Rahi, in the presence of all Maronite bishops from Lebanon and abroad.

The election of three new bishops, as well as pastoral and national issues, are on the agenda of the meeting, which ends on Saturday. A six-day spiritual retreat preceded the Holy Synod.

The episcopal seats to be filled are those in Cornet Chahwan, left vacant by the death of Bishop Camille Zaidan, as well as Tripoli and Tyre, whose archbishops retired having reached the age limit.

As per tradition, bishops took an oath to keep the deliberations leading up to the elections secret, both before and after the ballot. They repeated the oath following the Patriarch, who pronounced it word by word. The synod’s decisions will be announced in a final statement that will be released next Saturday at noon.

The Holy Synod will examine questions of a liturgical nature, as well as the central issue of the seminarians’ training, plus questions relating to the Maronite Church’s pastoral outreach and social care. The Patriarch pledged to adopt a comprehensive plan complementary to that of Maronite institutions already at work in this field, in particular Caritas-Lebanon.

Lastly, the Holy Synod will examine questions concerning the country, now that Saad Hariri is the prime minister-designate, and that everyone agrees that the formation of the new government must be done as soon as possible.

"Lebanon needs an independent government, one of whose tasks is the restoration of its authority through a constitutional, democratic and peaceful process," said the Patriarch in his opening address. “It is time to implement what the constitution provides for on this subject and bring comfort to a people full of fear for tomorrow, need and mistrust.”

"This government," the prelate added, “must be different from all those that preceded it, in order to fight the coronavirus pandemic [. . .] and face the financial and banking crises, power shortages, the squandering of public funds, the growth of corruption and the independence of the judiciary”. It must also face, “subsequently, the reconfiguration of institutions in accordance with the institutions.” By this, the patriarch probably means legislative elections.