Violence in Lebanon

Lebanese bishop launches energetic call to halt destruction of country


Maronite Bishop Bechara Rai of Byblos (Lebanon) has strongly condemned the recent attack in Beirut that took the lives of nine people, including Antoine Ghanem, a Christian lawmaker, who was going to take part in the presidential elections next week in Parliament.

Bishop Rai said those responsible for the deaths of the nine people in Beirut “are seeking to eliminate, as much as possible, those who make up the majority that opposes Hezbollah.  The killings in the last two years have targeted the members of the majority. So they are trying to eliminate votes before election day,” he said.

“Those who desire an unstable Lebanon” are behind the attacks, he went on, noting that “in our country, we pay for a regional conflict that exists but that is situated in an international strategy.  We don’t have to pay for others,” he said.

“Each time it seems we are advancing a little bit, with the hope of getting out of this hell of terrorism, everything starts all over again,” the bishop stated.  “The people and the whole country are paying the highest price, because these people are not doing any good for Lebanon: neither for the people nor for the State.”

Bishop Rai stressed that the Lebanese people no longer want suffer under the current political situation.  “We are seeing social disintegration, economic and political disintegration. And this is a hemorrhage. People are down and out at every level and emigration continues,” he said.

Bishop Rai exhorted the Lebanese to “pacify their hearts and keep their faith in order to rebuild unity.  But the greatest call is not to the people,” he went on, “but to the leaders and politicians, to stop the destruction of the country.”

Father Paul Karam, the director of the Pontifical Missionary Works of Lebanon, warned that the “enemies of Lebanon do not want to see a strong president who is able to achieve consensus.  They don’t want a peaceful and democratic country.  As Christians, we should not be afraid or lose hope in the efforts of the international community and Europe.”

The Lebanese parliament is divided in two: a majority composed of Christians, the Druze and anti-Syrian Sunnis; and an opposition dominated by Hezbollah.  After the latest attack, eight members of the majority have now been killed in the last two years.

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