Maronite patriarch urges Lebanese in US to help save Lebanon
Published: May 17, 2012
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (CNS) -- The spiritual leader of Maronite Catholics urged Lebanese in the Detroit area to play a role in the salvation of their homeland during his pastoral visit May 13. Patriarch Bechara Rai said people of Lebanese origin or heritage in America should use their experience of the way people of various ethnicities, religions and political persuasions live peacefully together in the U.S. to help forge a new civil pact among the contending factions in Lebanon. "You are living in the great country of the United States, and here the allegiance is not to the person, it is not to the party, it is to the country. It is from you the solution must come," Patriarch Rai told the more than 850 people who attended a banquet in his honor in Shelby Township. He spoke in Arabic with Bishop Paul Sayah, vicar general of the Maronite Patriarchate, serving as translator. The patriarch's remarks were made in the context of Lebanon's laws, which allow Lebanese to continue to vote in their home country's elections even after they settle in other countries. And he urged his audience to register their children in Lebanon, so that they can preserve their family's ties to the country -- including also being able to vote in elections. Underscoring the importance of this participation by the Lebanese diaspora, he noted there are three times as many Lebanese outside Lebanon as inside it. Speaking of the current situation in Lebanon, the patriarch said, "Now, each person, each party, has formed a Lebanon of their own. We will not accept that. We refuse that."
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