.- Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, appealed to the Lebanese people to show restraint in their reaction to Tuesday’s murder of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanon's industry minister.
The cardinal presided at the 34-year-old politician’s funeral yesterday at the Cathedral of St. George in Beirut. According to The Daily Star, the cardinal called the assassination “a disaster, not only for his family but for the whole country.”
“I appeal to the Lebanese people to seriously think about what has happened and that they hold back, think only about the future of Lebanon,” he reportedly said.
The “wave of crimes continues to destabilize the country” and “the Lebanese people must stay away from rivalries,” he said according to an ANSA report.
During the funeral, a Jesuit priest read a message from Pope Benedict XVI who condemned the “unspeakable” assassination and called for unity in Lebanon.
An estimated crowd of 800,000 Lebanese gathered in the nearby Martyrs’ Square holding a demonstration protesting the murder of Gemayel, which many attribute to Syrian action. Many protesters waved anti-Syrian banners and flags, as they listened to speeches from political leaders. Some chanted slogans of revenge.
Pallbearers had struggled to make their way into the cathedral amid the huge crowds. Women threw flowers and rice on Pierre Gemayel's coffin, draped in the flag of his Phalange Party, as it was passed hand to hand over the dense crowd of mourners outside the cathedral.
The funeral rally energized supporters of the Lebanese government, who vowed to oust Lahoud and seal the anti-Syrian bloc's full control of Lebanon's politics.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora went on national television Thursday night appealing to Hezbollah and its allies to resume a national dialogue broken off earlier in the month.
"Dialogue is the only and sure path that guarantees results," he said.