Maronite patriarch cites concern over burden of Syrian refugees

 

The leaders of governments "that make war in Syria by providing money, weapons and means both for the regime and for the opposition," with their "evil work of incitement" are responsible before history of the "crimes of murder, destruction, aggression and deportation of innocent citizens" which have been torturing the Syrian people for almost two years.
 
This was the cry of Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites. Speaking at a Mass at the Patriarchal See of Bkerké on January 27, a Day of Solidarity organized by Maronites in aid of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the patriarch blamed the international community for the devastating conflict in Syria.
 
Citing Pope John XXIII's encyclical, Pacem in Terris, Cardinal Rai also called upon the UN and its "responsibility of an organization established after the Second World War with the essential aim of maintaining and strengthening peace between peoples."
 
As titular head of the Maronite rite of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Rai also condemned the destabilizing effects that the Syrian conflict is likely to have in Lebanon. He told the various Lebanese parties that their divisions "create obstacles to the public life of Lebanon and paralyze national decisions, including the ratification of a new electoral law." It is thus, accused the patriarch, that fears are incited that the Syrian conflict might overflow its borders and enflame Lebanon. He cited concern that further emigration of Christians might ensue.
 
Addressing Syrian refugees, the Maronite patriarch invited them to integrate themselves with the "Lebanese culture based on openness, hospitality and unity in the variety" and to refrain disturbing the relative peace.
 
The Lebanese state, according to the cardinal, must "control the borders, registering refugees and taking all necessary measures to prevent the infiltration of weapons into Lebanon." According to the Patriarch, it is essential "to block any form of internal and external plot and avoid any religious, communal or political exploitation of refugees." Even the flow of refugees must be monitored: according to Patriarch Rai, the UN should coordinate with the various states to prevent a flow of Syrian refugees that could overwhelm tiny Lebanon, economically and socially.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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