04/02/2007, 00.00
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Crisis shadows Palm Sunday celebrations

by Youssef Hourany
Catholic and Orthodox mark the festivity by calling political groups to greater responsibility. Patriarch Sfeir criticizes all those who block reconciliation, the Maronite bishop of Beirut asks the International community to protect the Christian presence in the Middle East

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Catholics and Orthodox joined together in procession to mark Palm Sunday in diverse areas throughout Lebanon.  Despite the cold and the rain, children dressed in their Sunday best according to tradition bore olive branches to recall Christ’s entrance to Jeruslame, which geographically speaking is close by.  

However the festive celebration was overshadowed by the crisis that currently has the country in its grip. Thus Maronite Patriarch Nasralleh Sfeir, decided to address the numerous crowds gathered for the procession, condemning all those “who are trying to stain Lebanon’s history and block the process of national reconciliation”.  He called on all political groups to remember their responsibility to the nation and their obligation to save the Country and promote a society of peace.   The Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut Msgr. Elias Awde spoke out strongly against all those working against the common good.  He also launched an appeal that the leaders redouble their efforts to save the national identity.  Mons Paul Matar, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, also spoke of the suffering populations of Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon and appealed to the International Community to protect the Christian presence in the Middle East, before it’s too late.  

Abbott Semaan Abou Abdou, superior general of the Maronite BMV Order, presided over mass near the new General House in Zouk Mosbeh, which over 3 thousand people attended.  He insisted on the need to protect the country’s youth, speaking of “John Paul II’s prophetic idea of creating a World Youth Day, which reawoke and revived the faith in the hearts of so many young people”.  Fr Abou Abdo, marking the second anniversary of John Paul II’s death, invited the congregation to pray that he may be beatified.  The country’s difficulties was evoked by Msgr  Becbara Rai, Maronite bishop of Jbeil, who launched his criticism against the people who are robbing children of their joy, appealing that peace be re-established in the hearts and minds of the country.  For his part the new Greek – Melikite Metropolitan Msgr. Elie Bechara Haddad, during his first mass for his diocese repeated the need to free young people from the obstacles which stop them from living in full harmony with the Creator and creation, adding that his pastoral mission will be dedicated to giving the young greater space.  


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