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Pope Benedict XVI Accepts Sfeir's Resignation
(Retrieved from Naharnet on February 26, 2011)

Pope Benedict XVI accepted Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir's resignation, reported L'Obsservatore Romano newspaper on Saturday.
The Pope said in a letter to Sfeir: "I accept your free decision that reflects your humility."

"I trust that you will always stand by the Maronite church in prayer, wisdom, and sacrifices," it concluded.

In an interview with OTV in the Vatican on the sidelines of a ceremony to unveil the statue of Saint Maroun, Sfeir said: "They're free to say what they want, but the real reason is that I have reached the age of 90."

The patriarch noted that "the biggest threat facing the Lebanese is their split." He added, however, that the Lebanese situation "is still better than the situation in neighboring countries."

Sfeir submitted his resignation to the Vatican late last year, but it remains unknown whether the election of a new patriarch, if Sfeir's resignation is accepted, will take place before or after the election of a number of Maronite bishops to replace those who have reached the retirement age of 75.

The bishops who have reached retirement age could still vote to elect a new patriarch as long


Pope accepts resignation of Maronite church head
(Retrieved from Washington Examiner web site, article from The Associated Press, on February 26, 2011)

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the spiritual head of Lebanon's Maronites, the largest Catholic church in the Middle East.

Lebanese Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir was elected patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites in 1986. The 90-year-old cardinal cited his old age in comments to the Lebanese media when he handed in his resignation.

The pontiff said in a message to Sfeir released by the Vatican on Saturday that the cardinal's decision was an "expression of great humility."

Christians make up about 40 percent of Lebanon's 4 million people.

Some Christian politicians have criticized Sfeir, saying he was too involved in politics and too supportive of Lebanon's Western-backed political coalition.