By: Charles Jalkh

August 18.05


There is something deeply un-Christian, to call a neighboring nation “an enemy”, as pronounced by Cardinal Sfeir, the head of the Maronite Christian church in Lebanon earlier this week. In his public statement, cardinal Sfeir also stated that Lebanon’s relationship with Syria must be governed by brotherly love. His eminence has violated a basic tenant of modern democracies which is the separation of church and state. But in Lebanon this sort of violation has been the norm, and is practiced by all religious figures; Moslem and Christians alike.


Cardinal Sfeir’s intended audience may have been the local Lebanese public in an attempt to cement national coexistence by taking what he perceives as a middle ground conciliatory stand between the extreme Hizbollah doctrine of hatred, and the desire of the other Lebanese groups for peace and stability. Whatever the intent may be, it is unacceptable for non-elected “officials”, to make such ludicrous statements with impunity. Other religious leaders have even publicly called for incitement and military struggle as often do other Sunni and Shiite moslem religious leaders.


What happened to “Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors”? This is not to say that Israel is persecuting the Lebanese, it was rather the Syrian dictatorship who have tortured the Lebanese during 30 years of savage occupation. As a Lebanese, I expect better from the head of a Christian church. I expect and demand that he only minds the affairs of the faithful, not the affairs of the citizen, the state and its foreign policy. Christians are supposed to “witness for the Truth”, but cardinal Sfeir has failed to do that on numerous occasions in the history of our nation. He was a supporter of the famous Taef accord which ushered the full Syrian occupation of Lebanon.


It is time for Lebanon to bring forth modern secular political parties, such as the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which calls for the separation of Church and State and strives for the equal treatment and betterment of every citizen regardless of religious and ethnic background. It is time that we promote a culture of peace for our people and among all our neighbors and the world. Time to have the courage to speak honestly without camouflaged words and strategies. Time for religious figures to withdraw from our lives, and work one day a week then rest the other six days. It is time for peace with Israel. To open our borders, and develop all sorts of cultural and economic exchanges. It is time to heal our wounds and channel our energies towards making life better for our people. Time to respect the rights for all humans including Israeli, Syrians, Palestinians, Sri Lankis, and all others.


Long live the Free, Democratic, Secular, and Humanistic Lebanon.