Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman has called on local Christians to safeguard the establishment of the Lebanese in the Arab world.
During a ceremony held at the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate last Friday to mark the publication of a book on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon in 2013, Sleiman said Christians of Lebanon and the Middle East who are worried about their future should avoid giving credit to fallacious theories such as the alliance among minorities and would do well to choose their own guidelines.
President Sleiman cited two Apostolic Exhortations, one written by Blessed John Paul II in 1997 and the other by Benedict XVI in 2013 as examples of such guidelines.
“As Christians we should apply the Apostolic Exhortations rather than trying other ways, other mechanisms and other projects, he said. “This means safeguarding the ‘establishment’ of the Lebanese in the Arab world in which they find themselves”.
The struggle for human values and an increasing space for true democracy were among the prospects and guiding principles mentioned in the papal exhortations that were noted by the President. He also stressed the need for openness to others and the alternation of power through free elections.
President Sleiman listed for no’s for guiding Christians who wish to stay in the Middle East: No to self-retreat and isolationism, those are not Christian values; no to assimilation, “which contradicts the particular richness of Christians”; no “to the use of foreign protection and autocratic regimes”, and no also to the theories on “alliance among minorities”.
Also attending the ceremony was Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon as well as the Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Raï. In his address at the ceremony, Patriarch Raï applauded Benedict XVIs prophetic impulse during his Apostolic visit to Lebanon.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, he said, recognized with clarity that the Lebanese balance proposed as a model is very delicate and can break under material or sectarian pressure unrelated to the core characteristics of Lebanon.