Maronite Patriarch Béchara Raï Elected

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BKERKE, Lebanon, MARCH 18, 2011 ( Bishop Béchara Raï has been elected as the 77th patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites.

The prelate was elected Wednesday, receiving more than two-thirds of the votes of the 39 prelates that participated. He succeeds Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, 90, who held that post since 1986.

Bishop Raï, 71, has been bishop of Jbeil, Lebanon, since 1990. Previously, he served as an auxiliary bishop of Antioch since 1986.

He was ordained a priest in 1967, and from that year until 1975 he was responsible for the Arabic-language edition of Vatican Radio.

Bishop Raï will be inaugurated on March 25 in Bkerke, Lebanon, the see of the Maronite Catholic Church.

The majority of Christians in Lebanon are Maronite, approximately 930,000. The Maronite diaspora is far greater in number with nearly 3 million spread around the world.

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