18.7.06

Sfeir's itinerary

Interestingly, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir (not to be confused with another Lebanese power-broker, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah) has been in the United States during the entire time that his home nation of Lebanon has been under Israeli bombardment.

In fact, Sfeir has been in the US since June 29, according to an article in The Arab American News, published by Osama Siblani in the Arab-American stronghold of Dearborn, Michigan. The article quoted Sfeir as saying:
"We are against all aggression wherever it comes from. We condemn Israel's recent retaliations against Lebanon's people and infrastructure. We also hope that Hizbullah will finally lay down its arms and join the other citizens of Lebanon in reaching political solutions to all of the Lebanese problems."
Today, in stark contrast to a snub from the Bush Administration during a March 2001 visit to Washington, Sfeir was scheduled to meet at the White House with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (Sfeir also met with President Bush last year). This is according to the Catholic News Service, which also said that Sfeir would leave the US for Cyprus, hoping that the UN would assist him in returning to Lebanon.

Of course, Sfeir could fly to Damascus, which would be a symbolic recognition of the tens of thousands of Maronites who live in the Syrian Arab Republic, and return to Lebanon through there.

In 2000, when Pope John Paul II himself visited Damascus, Sfeir by choice did not join the festivities and instead stayed at home in Bkerke, Lebanon.

In any case, I wish the Patriarch a swift and safe journey home to be with his people at this urgent time.

1 comment:

George Ajjan said...

The Maronites, though centered in Mount Lebanon, have significant roots in the cities of Syria. Many Maronite monastic developments originated in Aleppo, and the Maronite bishop Jermanos Farhat, immortalized in a statute in the Jdaydeh section of Aleppo, was one of the staunchest defenders of the Arabic language during the Ottoman era.