09/26/2018, 17.37
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Patriarch al-Rahi in Canada to meet Lebanese diaspora

Outreach to young people and the lack of priests are great challenges. Maintaining a link with the “spiritual homeland” is necessary. The patriarch calls for an emergency government. For Lebanon, a million and half Syrian refugees is an unbearable burden.

Montreal (AsiaNews) – The first official meeting of the Conference of Maronite dioceses in the diaspora opened today in Canada in the presence of Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Al-Rahi.

The conference brings representatives of the dioceses of Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Montreal, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and France.

A report on the life of the dioceses with particular focus on young people will be presented. The bishops will also discuss the liturgy as a unifying factor among Maronites, and the link between Lebanon and the Lebanese Diaspora.

The agenda includes religious and national issues, such as the current political stalemate and the impact of such issues on the country and the Maronite community.

One of the most burning topics will be the lack of priests in the ever-expanding diaspora. In this regard, during the last synod of the Maronite Church in June, all the dioceses were invited to select priests who could serve abroad.

The assembly will have to deal with the problem of maintaining a distinct Maronite religious and cultural identity in the countries of emigration, where the quality of life is often higher than in Lebanon.

The Maronite Patriarch is set to focus on the links between the Christian faith and the Lebanese identity, stressing the importance of preserving the link with Lebanon, the Maronites’ "spiritual homeland".

For the Church leader, this is his second pastoral visit to Canada; the first was in 2012.

Yesterday, together with Canadian Maronite bishop Mgr Marwan Tabet, Card al-Rahi welcomed representatives of Lebanese parties at Saint-Maron Cathedral in Montreal.

On this occasion, he underlined "the importance of diaspora solidarity" and, slamming Lebanon’s “domestic divisions", he recommended "that they not be exported".

Yesterday, the prelate spoke at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Canada during its meeting in Cornwall (Ontario). He spoke about the difficulties facing Christians in the Middle East and condemned the states that "supply weapons and money to certain extremist groups" who have caused suffering to many Christians in Iraq and Syria.

In an interview in Canada with Lebanon’s Agence nationale de l’information (ANI), the cardinal reiterated his call to Lebanese political parties to form an emergency government, accusing them of muddling the situation in Lebanon, which is "economically and financially dead", even at a time when the international community is preparing an aid package of some US$ 11.5 billion to help breathe new life into the country’s ailing economy.

(Fady Noun contributed to this article)

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