Maronite bishops criticize Hezbollah, sectarian politics

.- In a strongly worded statement, Lebanon's Maronite Catholic Bishops criticized Hezbollah and said the interest of political parties in the country to fulfill sectarian ambitions rather than to serve national interests is “a chronic disease that has to be extracted.”

“There are 18 sects in Lebanon with equal rights and duties," the bishops said. "But in reality, we see that some groups are monopolizing the decision-making process and leading the country to unwanted situations."

The bishops did not mention any of these sects by name but made clear reference to Hezbollah.

“A Lebanese faction continues to bear weapons despite the Israeli withdrawal from most of the South in 2000. This continues to be in violation of the Taif Accord,” the bishops wrote. “This group has become a religious, military and political organization and led us to a war that was launched on July 12, 2006.”

The statement was issued Wednesday by the Council of Maronite Bishops, which is headed by Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, reported The Daily Star.

“Sectarianism’s symptoms are embedded in the presidential post at this time in particular,” they added. The current president is Emile Lahoud.

“The Christians, particularly the Maronites, are hurt by world leaders and local political figures’ disregard of the Lebanese presidency,” the bishops said. “This weakens the status of the presidency and needs a solution.”

The bishops added that Christians have become “marginalized due to the absence of an efficient role of the presidency.”

“Powerful countries and regional forces have also interfered more than enough in Lebanese affairs and are backing one sect or another,” the bishops added.

The council said that despite the end of Syria’s tutelage over the country, there are still many divisions among the Lebanese.

The bishops called on the people to back their current parliament, headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, “as the sole authority on Lebanese territory.”

“Only the government can bring trust and reassurance to the citizens,” they said.

The bishop said the Lebanese state must be responsible for developing the country’s south and overseeing the distribution of aid, the appeal said.

“It is the duty of every Lebanese to rebuild the country and swathe its wounds.” The council urged the Lebanese to respect the country’s Constitution and to “benefit from the international embrace they are enjoying at the moment." 

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