The spiritual leader of the Maronite Catholic church, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai of Antioch said he is prepared to meet Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah - the leader of Hezbollah - to address growing concerns about the threat posed by Islamic State incursions into Lebanon. Hezbollah is supported by Iran.
The patriarch's willingness to meet with Nasrallah came in an August 20 statement while Cardinal Rai was leaving for Erbil, Iraq, where he will participate in a delegation of the various Christian churches of the east and visit refugees in the beleaguered Middle Eastern country. The delegation of church includes: Greek Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III and Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem I I.
Patriarch Rai criticized the superpowers and Muslim countries for their failure to come to the aid of Christians who were persecuted by the Islamic State and forced to leave their native lands. With regards to relations with Hezbollah, Patriarch Rai stressed that "A Dialogue Committee between Bkerké (the seat of the Patriarchate, ed) and Hezbollah already exists, and we are ready to hold meetings in this regard." He also called upon the people of Lebanon, Muslim and Christian, to "unite and take responsibility, in order to face together the great danger of the ISIL which has begun to penetrate in Lebanon."