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Al-Rahi: Lebanon Can’t Overstep Security Council
September 25, 2011
(Retrieved from Naharnet on September 25, 2011)

(Picture retrieved from Daily Star on September 25, 2011)


Maronite Patriarch Beshara, who is on a three-day tour to the South, said Sunday that Lebanon cannot overstep the U.N. and the Security Council, in reference to resolutions issued by the world body.

In his sermon at the Sayyida church in Hasbaya, al-Rahi said: “Lebanon is going through a difficult and sensitive stage.”

The Lebanese should engage in dialogue, he said.

During his visit to Khelwat Bayyada in Hasbaya, the patriarch stressed that God has granted the Lebanese the wealth of diversity. He expressed commitment to the preservation of Lebanese families from all sects and confessions.

In Kawkaba, al-Rahi said Lebanon is the land of love. It is a message, he added.

“We stand in humility before the sacrifices of southerners so that this land remains the land of dignity and durability,” the patriarch said, adding: “We can’t build peace in our lives and communities without love.”


Residents flock to greet Rai on historic visit to south
September 24, 2011 05:22 PM By Mohammad Zaatari

(Retrieved from Daily Star on September 25, 2011)

TYRE: Despite the heavy rain on Tyre, residents in their hundreds flocked to the center of the city to greet Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai on his historic visit to south Lebanon Saturday.

Students from the Imam Musa al-Sadr Foundation, members of civil organizations and the city’s scouts – who sang and played the country’s national anthem – were among the many to greet the influential Maronite leader.

The patriarch’s visit comes as part a nationwide pastoral tour to Christian communities throughout the country after his appointment as the head of the influential Maronite Church in March.

During his visit Rai repeated the slogan of “partnership and love” and spoke about the importance of coexistence in the country, saying: "If we lose these two [features], Lebanon would lose one of its main characteristics."

"We are all invited to build a united and balanced society that combines the Muslim crescent and the Christian cross,” Rai added.

He also praised the role of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and expressed his appreciation for their continued “sacrifices.”

Local MPs Mohammad Fneish, Ali Khreis and Abdel Majid Saleh accompanied Rai on his tour in Tyre along with several religious leaders, including Tyre Mufti Sheikh Midrar Al Habbal.

At the Sayadeen square, city officials like head of Tyre Municipality Hasan al-Dabouq, presented Rai with the key to the city in honor of the patriarch.

The city’s fishermen expressed their joy at Rai’s visit by presenting him a statue of a boat modeled on that of a Phoenician vessel.

During the honorary reception, Dabouq praised what he described as the historic visit by Rai, saying: “Lebanon is a miniature example that brings all sects together in one place.”

South Lebanon, which is predominantly Shiite and heartland of Hezbollah that managed to free the area from Israeli occupation in 2000, also has a Christian population nearing 40,000 who are spread across towns such as Hasbaya, Marjeoun, and Qadaa Bin Jbeil.

Rai’s next stop was the village of Qana, the place where Christians believe Jesus performed his first miracle.

In 1996, and while Israel still occupied much of the south, Qana was also the site of a massacre after Israeli artillery hit a U.N. compound where civilians had sought shelter in.

Accompanied by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s wife Randa, Rai made his way to the graveyard where the 101 victims of the tragic incident were buried and paid his respects.

The Qana grotto, where Christians believe Jesus turned water into wine, was also among the several places visited by the influential Maronite leader.

In the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura, where UNIFIL is headquartered, Rai praised the efforts of the U.N. peacekeepers in the south and thanked the force’s head, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta.

Rai’s three-day tour will also include Bint Jbeil which he is scheduled to visit on Sunday. 

The patriarch’s tour to the south comes only weeks after he issued controversial statements while on a visit to Paris. His comments, both on the situation in Syria and Hezbollah’s weapons, sparked immediate debate in the country that subsided after Rai said his comments had been taken out of context.

While in the French capital, Rai linked the fate of Lebanon with the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons, saying the group could not be expected to disarm so long as the Shebaa Farms were still occupied by Israel.

The Maronite patriarch had also urged the international community to pressure Israel to withdraw completely from remaining occupied territories.

“As long as there is occupied Lebanese territory, Hezbollah will maintain that it wants to carry arms in defense of its land. What will we say to it then? Isn’t it [Hezbollah] right?”Rai said.

For his part, Hezbollah official Fneish praised Rai’s recent remarks and said that the formula of the “people, army, resistance” was the only national defense strategy able to protect the country from Israeli aggression.


Al-Rahi from Tyre: We Want Political Decisions that Ensure
Muslim-Christian Coexistence 

(Retrieved from Naharnet on September 25, 2011)

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi hoped on Saturday that God would inspire political leaders to take the appropriate decisions that would fall in Lebanon’s favor.

He said from the southern city of Tyre: “We hope they will take political decisions that can ensure the people’s freedom and protect the coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon and the whole region.”

“We are not idly watching the developments in the Arab world, but we are praying for them and all the people who are seeking to live in dignity and peace,” he added.

He was welcomed in Tyre by Jaafari Muftis Hassan Abdullah and Madrar Habbal, a number of bishops, minister Mohammed Fneish, and MPs Ali Khreis, Abdul Majid Saleh, and Michel Moussa, and a number locals.

Al-Rahi then headed to the southern town of Qana, the second stop of his tour of the South.