09/27/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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Attacks are worrying the Lebanese to death, says Patriarch Sfeir

by Youssef Hourani

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir has warned the Lebanese against the "fatal consequences" that "worrying to death" might cause as the country is forced to cope with a recent spate of terrorist attacks. In order to cope with the situation, he urged his fellow citizens to pray to God and put trust in themselves and the country. 

In his homily on September 25, Cardinal Sfeir named the dangers facing the country, dangers such as "the sporadic attacks . . . that hurt people and destroy [property]; confessional discord that threatens to worm itself into the bosom of some communities; the questions that the soon-to-be-published international inquiry report may raise in the country and elsewhere. This explains why the Lebanese feel like they are "worrying to death" and why "we ask God to spare us from its fatal consequences," he added.

On Sunday, May Chidiac, a journalist known for her anti-Syrian views, was the target of an attack in which she lost a hand and a foot. A week earlier in Jeitawi, a Christian residential neighbourhood, a car bomb exploded causing death and destruction.

This series of attacks is happening at a time when the international United Nations investigation into the February 14 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is set to wrap up.

The investigation itself has led to the arrest of several Lebanese security officials tied to Syrian political and military leaders.

At their world Synod, which ended on September 24, Maronite Bishops said that the attacks "aim at striking Lebanon and undermining its stability".

Hence, the Bishops urged the Lebanese "to close ranks and repudiate divisions through a constructive dialogue" that can give life to what John Paul II called "Lebanon as a message", i.e. a free and democratic country where Christians and Muslims coexist in peace, and pass it onto future generations..

The Bishops also picked the names of the priests who, once the approval of the Holy See is secured, should take over five bishoprics left vacant by the death of Mgr Jean-Fouad El Hajje (Tripoli), and the resignations of Mgr Tanios El-Khoury (Saida), Mgr Raymond Eid (Damascus), Mgr Youssef Dergham (Cairo), and Mgr Paul-Monged El-Hachem (Baalbek-Deir El- Ahmar). The last one was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the Persian Gulf countries. 

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