Lebanon must overcome crisis, say Maronite bishops
by Youssef Hourani
Prelates and Cardinal Sfeir criticise adjournment of 'national dialogue'. For the Patriarch, President Lahoud is no longer qualified to lead the country.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – "We must overcome this crisis" is the cri-de-coeur heard at the end of Maronite bishops' monthly meeting, presided by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. It came as the bishops called on political leaders to overcome the current stalemate over political reform and the decision taken by participants to the 'national dialogue' to suspend this process till April 28.

In their final press release, the bishops condemned statements made after the Arab League summit which underscored the conflict between Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the March 14 group on the one hand, and President Émile Lahoud on the other.

Patriarch Sfeir's interview with French magazine Le Point was widely commented. For the cardinal, the President is isolated and no longer qualified to hold the country's top executive post.

"Lahoud cannot fulfill his duties as a president anymore because he is isolated and boycotted by local and international figures," Sfeir was quoted as saying.

Although Sfeir opposes the election of a military man to the presidency, he did point out that General Aoun "has not been a military man for over 20 years."

He expressed his support for steps taken by National Assembly Speaker Nabih Berri who chairs the 'national dialogue', but remains uneasy about the latter's suspension till the 28 of this month.

In their communiqué the bishops did not mention the president, a sign that they are keeping at arms' length from Cardinal Sfeir's harsh statements.

They do however disapprove Lahoud's and Aoun's attitude towards Hezbollah or 'Party of God', saying it is part of the Lebanese resistance.

Finally, the bishops called on political leaders to assume their responsibilities vis-à-vis the country's political life, urging them to use the language of reason and enable the nation to overcome its current political and economic crises.