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The Maronite Church and Politics




1.  The Maronites’ experience in politics is one of the oldest and most diverse and comprehensive among those of the Christians of the East.  The role of the Maronites in their direct involvement in politics is discerned on three levels: within the ecclesiastical framework, under the patronage of the Maronite Patriarchate; at the level of politicians, especially the influential; and, at the common, public level.  This involvement in politics started a few centuries before the establishment of the State of Greater Lebanon.  They experienced politics from the position of authority as well as from the side of the opposition.  They have made choices and taken initiatives at crucial historical junctures, and interconnected within an incongruent environment with wisdom, tact and flexibility mixed with firmness, as a result of a long pursuit in politics permeated by some errors.


2.  Freedom, which is religiously and socially ingrained in Maronites, was a factor of reassurance to openness toward internal and external trends and currents which were often contradictory, culturally and politically.  However, in some stages of alarm and anxiety, this freedom has shriveled, forming a negative factor pulling their progress toward withdrawal and recession.  Openness to the world provided Maronites with an unrestrained vision, magnanimous and international affiliation, for the purpose of interconnection with diverse countries, cultures and civilizations in the quest for knowledge.  As freedom was a factor of openness, internally, that is, toward others, Maronites participated in the propagation of education and knowledge and in making fundamental choices which had the greatest of impacts on our national life.


3.  When we talk about the Church and politics, we mean: firstly, the Church as a religious authority engaging in politics; and secondly, the Maronite sons and daughters of the Church with their different affiliations and orientations, in Lebanon and in the Countries of Expansion.  The political and social destiny of the Maronites emanates from a religious and cultural attachment which made of them a community with a distinctive countenance, through the fundamental choices where the principles of openness and integration overpowered those of seclusion and segregation.  Hence, they cooperated with others for the sake of creating a will for mutual coexistence.  This explains the Maronites’ refusal of the concept of appropriating a country all to themselves, in perpetual preference for mutual coexistence.


The fluctuating relationship between the Maronite Church and politics crystallized through two historical epochs: the era of imperial regimes, extending until the First World War; and the era of the State, which started at the beginning of the last century.



Chapter One:


The Historical Journey



First: The Imperial Era


4.  The Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon states: “The Church is in the image of her Master: she is a divine and a human reality, living in time and space, with all what ensues in historical, geographical, social and cultural accommodation.  She is rooted in that tangible reality to which she owes the special features of her countenance and her distinctive character….”[1]  Some Churches were heavily present in temporal affairs, such as the Latin Church, which assumed responsibility for her people in the absence of the Roman State, after the Barbarian invaded and destroyed what was called the Western Roman Empire.  Other Churches did not feel the need to assume such an endeavor, as the Byzantine Church, because the Roman Empire, while Christianized, totally embraced temporal affairs.


5.  However, the Maronite Church had a different yet unique experience.  This too was a result of history and how burdensome that was on this small fledgling Church, emerging from the core of hardships, and religious and temporal conflicts!  She grew in a broad environment marked till the twentieth century by imperial regimes: the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman Empires.  Talking about the Maronite Church and politics requires an examination of the circumstances surrounding her inception within the Antiochene Patriarchate, as well as a mention of her contribution in the establishment of a pluralistic country guaranteeing freedom and authenticity to the people.  Difficult religious and societal circumstances, following the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., brought these people who were living in the rural areas around the city of Antioch, within the boundaries of its Patriarchate, to congregate in the region of Apamea, around a prosperous monastic movement, known for its struggle to confirm the doctrine of the two perfect natures in Christ the Lord: the divine and the human.


6.  Following the fall of Antioch, after the Arab invasion in 636 and the severance of contact with the capital and the other patriarchates, including Rome, and throughout a stage of disorientation and confusion in the Patriarchate of Antioch (641-742), the Maronites installed a patriarch to fill a leadership void and to protect the flock from dispersion and subjugation.  The patriarchs first dwelt near Apamea then moved to Lebanon, to the monasteries of Yanouh, Kfarhay, Maifouk and then Qannoubine.  Meanwhile and henceforth, the Maronites started gathering between the mountains of Lebanon and its valleys (in the mountainous Phoenician-Lebanese province), since the Arab Muslim conqueror crossed the plains and left the mountains alone.


7.  Since the Lebanese mountain was void of any political organization, away from political life and religious conflicts in the Byzantine Empire, the Maronites organized their life following a rural pattern, according to the then-prevailing customs.  In this new organization, the Church played a pivotal role, especially during the time of external wars, tribulations and internal strife, because the people trusted the Patriarchate and considered it the ultimate authority.  The Patriarch lived a monastic religious life, contented in directing the faithful in times of hardship and calamity.


8.  The Maronites remained in this stronghold for a period of time that may be divided into phases: the first phase being from the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth, till the end of the eleventh century.  This phase was characterized by seclusion and adjustment to the rocky Lebanese landscape, throughout four centuries ending with the resumption of communication with Rome and the West at the time of the Crusaders.  This phase had a profound and decisive impact during which the Maronites were influenced by the new environment, thus becoming an unwavering people, united and zealous for their existence and religion.  Meanwhile, the Church continued assuming leadership tasks, guiding the people in spiritual and temporal matters.  Patriarchs and bishops lived alongside the people, sharing in their joys, sorrows, prayers and fateful causes.  The second phase was one of difficult trial spanning two centuries, during the era of the Mamelukes and the Mouqaddams.  It was a dark period of which the historian Sultan Qalawoon wrote relating the capture of Patriarch Louqa al-Banahrani saying: “There was concurrence that in the city of Tripoli a strong, proud and daring patriarch frightening the governor of the city and all the foreigners (Crusaders)…and his capture was a great conquest, even greater than the conquest of a fortress or a citadel, may God put an end to his wiles.”[2]  This testimony confirms the Maronites’ attachment to freedom and authenticity.  They have no enemy except the enemy of their freedom.  For them, freedom is the civil political freedom without which there is no opportunity to defend any other freedom, religious be it or otherwise.


9.  The third phase was the epoch of the Ottoman rule, spanning over four more centuries, basing itself on the Islamic caliphate represented by the sultans of Istanbul, and on the Millah (sect) system derived from the doctrine of the acceptance by Muslims of the People of the Book. This was also the phase of building the Lebanese interior, and its geographic area expansion from its north to its south.  This expansion occurred with encouragement from the families controlling the regions, particularly the ‘Assaf family princes.  The town of Ghazir was the base from which they ruled (as of 1506).  They were Sunni Muslims ruling in accordance with the then known feudal system, and not in accordance with the Islamic Shari’a, that is, they were content collecting taxes, and they were heavy, yet allowing their subjects religious freedom.  This arrangement suited the Maronites, which is why there was cooperation in governing between them and the ‘Assaf princes through the Hobeish family, and set a precedent in Mount Lebanon, starting in 1516.  It was built on the basis of common interests and not on implementing the Islamic Shari’a.


10.  When the Ottoman state became displeased with the emirs of the ‘Assaf family and with their aides from the Hobeish family, they endeavored to gradually eliminate them, replacing them with the princes of the Bani Sayfa family.  The latter, too, were from the Turkmen tribes, brought in by the Ottoman state to protect the shores.  However, they used to rule according to the Shari’a, and not according to civil convention.  During that period, the Maronite migration toward the southern regions of Mount Lebanon coincided with their contact with Rome and the West through the Franciscan missionaries and other Christian organizations working in the Holy Land.  They soon started a new partnership, first with the Ma’an family and prince Fakhreddin, through the Khazen family and, in a second stage, with the Abi-l-Lama’ family.  Fakhreddin aspired to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire and wished to be open to the West.  The Maronites facilitated contact between the emir and Rome, Florence and Paris.  This partnership grew stronger and encompassed for the first time the Christians, the Druze and the rest of the inhabitants of Mount Lebanon.  From that time henceforth, the idea of a modern pluralistic Lebanon built on common interests began to crystallize.  This partnership prospered throughout both emirates: the Ma’ans (1584-1633), and the Shehabs (until its fall in 1842).


11.  Under the two Emirates, the Maronites gained influence and spread inland, trying to break the second encirclement, that of ignorance.  The first cultural and educational act was the founding of the Maronite College in Rome in 1584, to train seminarians who would in turn return to teach the people.  This occurred at the onset of the Maronites’ partnership with Emir Fakhreddin.  During that time, they also brought the first printing press to Mar Antonios monastery, in Qozhayya in the North, which started operating in 1610, almost 200 years before Bonaparte brought the printing press to Egypt.  Through the merits of these achievements, the Maronites stepped into the modern era, contributing effectively in the Arab Renaissance, and opened up to Western civilization which they transmitted to their contemporaries after they had conditioned the European concepts of freedom and progress to the Eastern reality.  This role was welcomed by all the peoples of the region subjected to the long Ottoman domination responsible for the era of degradation.  The importance of the Maronites’ course of action lies in that it came about basically at the level of the language and the diverse Arab culture, without having imposed any particular thought pattern.  It did however open the way to civil, secular, feminist and intellectual movements such as Arab nationalism and opposing the Zionist danger, to reach finally the universal human concern.  Thus the Maronites spread learning and knowledge in their environment, breaking the chains of ignorance and illiteracy.  During that period, harmony was complete, not just between the Maronite Church and the Lebanese Emirate with the different confessions and beliefs of the princes, but also between the Church and the new Maronite leadership, such as the Hobeish and Khazen families, among others.  These were, unlike the Mouqaddams, very zealous for the interests of the Church.[3]


12.  The stage of the two Qa’im-maqamias from 1842 till 1860 was a time of harsh trial during which conspiracies were woven from inside and outside, especially between the Ottoman and British empires, which ended with the tragedy of 1860 in the Druze Qa’im-maqamia, consequently leading to the emigration of many citizens to the far West.  Throughout that time, and during the severe tribulations, the Maronites never forgot their folk proverb: “Those who have no homeland have no religion.”  Thus, they overcame the events of 1860, shunned grudges, and since the declaration of the Moutasarrifiya regime, cooperated anew with the Druze to make a success of the experience of mutual coexistence between them and the other denominations in Mount Lebanon.


13.  Under the Moutasarrifiya regime, which constituted the political, legal and geographic nucleus of the State of Greater Lebanon, the Maronites returned to their experience with Fakhreddin, that is, to their choice of openness toward the other, mutual coexistence and propagating education, reaching the depths of civil societies, and the necessity of returning Lebanese lands to what they were under the previous expansion.  They made claims on the seaports and the territories alongside the mountain.  They did so out of patriotism, disregarding narrow sectarian considerations, since large parts of the population of those regions were Muslims.  Nevertheless, the choice of openness and communication was not always unanimous among and around the Maronites.  Their unification endeavor did not materialize until after First World War I, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.


14.  On the first of September, 1920, their dream was fulfilled with the declaration of the State of Greater Lebanon in its present borders, which included the Maronite expansion in the period of the two Emirates.  This came about as a result of popular support and the lobbying of the Maronite communities abroad, especially in France, Egypt, the United States and Brazil, and negotiations, the most important of which were presided over by Patriarch Elias al-Howayek delegated by the Administrative Council composed of representatives of the different Lebanese denominations.[4]  Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir says in his fifth pastoral letter on the occasion of Great Lent: “There is an undeniable historical reality.  Simply put, our Maronite Church played a major role in forming Lebanon, with its distinctive characteristics and unique qualities.  Her clergy assumed temporal authority alongside spiritual authority during varying spans of time, the days the Maronites would cling to their mountains in the face of invaders and conquerors, safeguarding their freedom, religious beliefs and inherited traditions.  They did so without harboring enmity toward their environment.  They knew how to tackle that environment with flexibility blended in firmness, thus safeguarding what they cherished of dignity, an independent mindset and orientation.”[5]



Secondly: The Modern Period, from 1920 until the Present


15.  In the pre-State period, the Maronites entered the world of politics through two doors: the Maronite Patriarchate, and the politicians from among the influential notables of the imperial era.  With the coming of the State in the twenties of the last century, new political leaderships emerged, some of whom entered politics via political parties and others via public institutions, in addition, of course, to the Church represented by the Patriarchate as a political and spiritual authority on both the community and national levels.  Partisanship is old in the Maronite milieu crystallizing after the birth of the modern State through the formation of political parties with diverse orientations and objectives.  These parties contributed to the enriching of political life inside and outside Parliament, particularly before the outbreak of the Lebanese War in the mid-seventies.


16.  All through their political journey, the Maronites of Lebanon and in communities of the Countries of Expansion have always taken initiatives contributing to the crystallization of the foundational stages in the modern history of Lebanon: in the establishment of the Moutasarrifiyyat regime in 1861; the rise of the modern state in the early nineteen-twenties; the realization of independence simultaneously with the declaration of the National Pact in 1943; the restoration of national unity after the wars of 1958 and 1975; the establishing of a political regime and a liberal economy that set Lebanon apart from the authoritarian regimes in the Arab environment.  In other words, since the seventeenth century the Maronites have been in a continuously ascending movement in the political concern (and the economic, social and cultural affairs), not only at the level of influence only, but also at the level of the initiative and the movement of interconnection with others internally and externally.



1. Independence and the National Pact


17.  The concurrence of independence and the National Pact is a purely Lebanese national product creating a passage toward the historical resolution of a dilemma accompanying the formation of the State whose imprint is moderation and realism.  The goal was to find a formula for the banding together of the different Lebanese communities.  The National Pact is in fact a lifetime project.  Its broad lines were schematized in 1943, not because the Lebanese had all agreed on all raised issues, but because they had agreed upon a formula based on real sharing built on concord, equality and balance.  In this manner, the internal dimension of the Pact would become secure, because it maintained an equation of apportioning quotas for confessional representation in the new formula resolved before the declaration of independence.  Furthermore, this formula deals in a fundamental way with the external dimension of the Pact, that is, independence from the French mandate, matched by an Arab recognition of the existence of the independent State of Lebanon.


18.  The external, and more specifically, the regional dimension of the Pact, was the one more prone to fluctuations and relapses, because it did not depend on the Lebanese alone, even if they were to agree, but entailed the issue of the relationship of Lebanon with its Arab environment, particularly during times of acute regional crises.  It was an environment that has been searching for its own identity with the ending of Ottoman rule.  Its situation grew ever more complicated in the fifties with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, when Palestinian refugees came to dwell in Lebanon as guests.  The same dilemma was re-presented once again after the 1967 war following the emergence of the Palestinian resistance, in extremely complicated circumstances, locally and regionally.


19.  The Arab regimes asserted the matter of their Arabism through numerous means.  Some resorted to ideological slogans and others resorted to religion.  Lebanon opted for a civilizational alternative headlined political pluralism administering it through dialogue, noble settlements, an open society and moderation.  This caused gravitation between a National Pact tailor made to fit Lebanon and the nature of its political system and the types of relationships between the state and society, and, the Arab national pacts which are not in accord with the Lebanese situation.  This gravitation intensified with the inability, up until today, to complete the building of a stable civil state, standing on the efforts of national institutions not subordinate to regional and international variables and unchained by confessional gravitation; a state for all its citizens without segregation or discrimination, able to interact with novelties of the epoch in the framework of freedom and consensual democracy.



2. The Period between 1958 and the Outbreak of the War


20.  The events of 1958 have shaken the internal stability of the country and was the first actual relapse affecting the National Pact.  The Shehab period came to restore national cohesion, through an attempt at activating public institutions and to launch reform and development programs embracing all confessions and regions.  Thus the Shehabi endeavor was a realistic and moderate conditioning of the National Pact, a driving force behind a large scale administrative reform, and a serious effort in the direction of a balanced social and economic development. However, the abuse of power on the part of some security apparatus had a great effect in tarnishing the credibility of the Shehab rule, and the return of fear and anxiety.  As a result, sectarian alliances were formed, rapidly indicating their inability to carry on the mission of Lebanon and bring about equality and power sharing.


21.  The Arab-Israeli war of 1967 turned Lebanon into a confrontation state, even though it had not joined the war against Israel since 1948, nor had Israel occupied any of its territory by then.  Additionally, the emergence of the armed Palestinian resistance after the war of 1967 under a new leadership with transformational objectives, not only in the actual Israeli occupation of Palestine, but also in some of the Arab regimes, positioned the Lebanese government in a direct clash between two contradictory mindsets: the logic of a state seeking to uphold its sovereignty, interests and internal stability, and the logic of a revolution striving after political and military expansion, by whatever means available, and the opening of a new military front on the Lebanese-Israeli border.  Unfortunately, this contradiction found fertile soil in the country as a result of the imbalance and the lack of interconnection dictating relations between the different Lebanese factions.


22.  The first military clash between the Lebanese army and the Palestinian organizations, supported by some Lebanese parties and a number of Arab states, occurred in 1969, resulting in an unprecedented governmental crisis lasting seven months.  The crisis did not end until after the signing of the Cairo Agreement which allowed the Palestinian organizations to enter into military confrontation with Israel across the Lebanese-Israeli borders.  It also placed Palestinian camps under the control of these armed Palestinian organizations.  So, crises recurred in Lebanon in the first half of the seventies, after the Palestinian organizations lost their bases in Jordan in 1970 and entrenched themselves politically and militarily in Lebanon.  Lebanon became a primary base for armed Palestinian operations, and thus, an attracting instrument for Arab regimes to interfere in both Lebanese and Palestinian affairs, and an open battlefield with Israel, not only in the South, but also in many regions, including the capital, Beirut.  The Arab-Israeli war of 1973 came about to further implant the Palestinian armed presence in Lebanon, especially after Egypt and Syria had recovered some territories in exchange for agreements to freeze their military fronts.  Hence, southern Lebanon became the sole battlefield for the Arab-Israeli conflict.


23.  These developments created grounds for the war which broke out on April 13, 1975.  From beginning to end, this war was a series of intertwined internal and regional wars, in which the Lebanese and the Palestinians directly participated, in addition to Syria, Israel and, later, the Islamic Republic of Iran and a number of Arab states.  The deeper internal division in Lebanon in the mid-seventies was concerning the nature of the armed Palestinian presence.  In that period, Palestinian organizations transformed, in actuality, into an internal issue in Lebanese politics.


24.  Another issue surfaced causing division in Lebanon.  It revolved around reforming the political system.  This produced a governmental crisis in 1969; and the crisis of 1973, in which the issue of power sharing got entangled with the problem of the armed Palestinian presence.  It is true that the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic were extensive, but it is equally true that, in practice, this was not the case, because these powers were bound by the signatures of both the Prime Minister and the minister concerned.  Consequently, it was more appropriate for the Maronite leadership to consecrate this actuality through constitutional stipulations as added confirmation of the principle of balanced Muslim participation in power.  This is what they did in the Ta’if Accord, but, with a fifteen-year delay.


25.  At the level of Maronite positions toward the modification of the governmental structure, they had two positions: one was opposing any constitutional amendment aimed at weakening the authority of the President of the Republic; the other, more accommodating to the proposed modifications and to an adjustment to the facts of reality.  The entanglement of issues raised in the seventies created the problem of the ability of the Maronite political currents to bring about the required change to meet the long list of wide ranging demands varying from political reform to support of the Palestinian organizations, passing through calling for a regime change.  This also obscured the meaning of Lebanon and of its civilizational experience built on the paradigm of mutual coexistence, the acceptance of the other as a different full sharing partner, and an interconnection with the other who becomes part of the definition of self.


26.  Despite all that, Lebanon did enjoy a measure of political, economic, media and cultural freedoms that many states in the Arab World have not witnessed.  As for the nation of law, despite the flaws befalling it, law continued to be respected.  The judiciary system enjoyed a good measure of independence and effectiveness.  During that stage, political balance reigned between the existing political forces.  Neither political exile nor elimination for political reasons were possible, nor was systematic targeting prevalent.  The opposition had an active presence, as it was able to object and still come to assume power.  The right to oppose and correct were available and were practiced more than once and have actually resulted in change of presidential tenures and in their policies and figures.



3. The War Years[6]


27.  The war broke out lasting fifteen years producing losses unprecedented in the modern history of Lebanon.  Nevertheless, war is war with all its pains and tragedies.  The people lived it and the Church suffered from it what it suffered.  It resulted in the displacement of thousands of Christians from all Lebanese regions, within a few short years, after it had taken many centuries to develop Christian presence in the Mountain.  While this long war, fickle in its goals and its players, was grossly exploited on the part of nations, communities and individuals, it also witnessed effective and noble resistance undertaken by many youths sacrificing their lives in defense of their convictions and the sovereignty, freedom and dignity of their country.  As a matter of fact, the two-year war of 1975-1976 united some partisan and non-partisan Maronite leaderships in one file in the face of the impending military danger, at a time when the Church and other Maronite leaderships demanded a return to the national constants, refusing to resort to arms and to appeal to outside powers to resolve internal problems.  That would undermine the formula of mutual coexistence built on the culture of openness, mediation and moderation, and because in any case it would deal a blow to democratic and human rights values.  The war years which followed also witnessed armed conflicts between parties and leaders in the Christian milieu, unprecedented in the modern history of the Maronites, whether in their magnitude or in their negative effects on the Lebanese political balance, on Maronite interests, and on the people in most regions with a Christian presence.  “The Catholic Church suffered a lot from divisions among her children, particularly during the later years of the war.  This division caused her to be ripped from inside.  In 1993, those who drew up the guidelines of the Synod of Bishops for Lebanon wrote: “The Church of Lebanon . . . was wounded deep in the core of her body as were the other institutions in Lebanon.  But she was, in particular, subjected to a horrific test in her conscience.  She saw her children being killed, killing and fighting each other.  She is still suffering from their ever-burning strife.  She suffers in an agonizing way from the deep abyss dug by those troubled years between a number of her followers, and between them and the ecclesiastical authority.”[7]




Chapter Two:


The Post War and the Ta’if Accord Stage



28.  This tragic situation forced the Maronite Church to concentrate her efforts on putting an end to the cycle of violence intensifying day by day such that it was starting to threaten the fate of the entire nation.  Emanating from this logic, she encouraged those seeking solutions to end the war, and contributed in elaborating on the fundamentals and concepts on which the Ta’if Accord was based (1989).  The Church saw in this Accord an opportunity to turn over a new page on past conflicts between those who were calling in the name of justice for an improvement of the conditions of participation in the government, and those who were seeking, in the name of freedom, to protect the entity of the nation and cement its finality.  The Church also perceived that the Accord would rivet the priority of conviviality before all else, thus making it the foundation of legitimacy.


29.  The preamble of the Ta’if Accord settled the debate over the nature of the social contract between the Lebanese, considering that conviviality is at the foundations of this contract and that there is no legitimacy for any authority contradicting the pact of conviviality.   It also defined the Lebanese regime: one Lebanon, unified, sovereign, free, independent and final for all its citizens and on all its territory.  It has an Arab identity and affiliation, and is committed as a founding member of the Arab League, the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  It also stated that the regime was republican, democratic and parliamentary, based on the respect of public freedoms, particularly freedom of belief, and on justice, equality and the principle of separation of powers, and that the people are the source of authorities.  It ended by stating that there is no legitimacy for any authority contradicting the pact of conviviality.


30.  The Syrian guardianship authority was able to twist the contents of the Ta’if Accord, striking the social contract in the core, thus robbing the government of its power of decision, and emptying politics out of political life.  It also drew up a programmed targeting plan assuming various aspects: Political Targeting through adopting electoral laws, which do not take into consideration correct representation; Security Targeting affecting a number of political organizations and figures, and the Christian youth in and outside Lebanon; Demographic Targeting by ratifying a naturalization decree in 1994, which granted the Lebanese nationality, all at once, to more than 300,000 people, the majority of whom were non-Christian, and unqualified to receive it, and to holders of other citizenships; and, Media Targeting for the purpose of charging Christians collectively with treason, distorting their image and tarnishing their pioneering role in Lebanon.  Probably the most important development introduced into the political pursuit in post-war Lebanon was the impairing of accountability, initiative and the ability to oppose in the political endeavor through democratic means.  Yet, that was the role which accompanied Maronites, Church, people and leaders, since the birth of the State and until today. This led to the destruction of their free will, and affected their religious authority and their political leaderships.


31.  In the face of the deterioration taking place in the Lebanese situation obstructing progress toward authentic reform, the Maronite Church prepared in 1998 a detailed memorandum which stated that “the present political dilemma is the origin of all problems and crises we are suffering from.  That is why, first and foremost, national reconciliation must be achieved by implementing the document of national reconciliation in letter and spirit….and this national reconciliation is realized by agreeing on common values which are freedom, democracy, the supremacy of the internal political decision and its formulation into the constitutional institutions, the embodiment of these national values on the basis of mutual coexistence translated into balanced Christian Muslim participation in government and in administration; also, through the implementation of a comprehensive, impartial and un-politicized justice….Till when will Lebanese authorities keep relying on the outside for strength?  Why not organize the distinctive relations with Syria on the basis of allegiance to Lebanon and the interests of the two countries with equality?  If this is not realized, the consequences will be detrimental for both Lebanon and Syria….”[8]


32.  Many years of toil through word, stand, truth and faith have passed during which the Maronite Church played a major role at the national level, the most distinguished pausing station of which was the famous call of September 20, 2000, following the liberation from Israeli occupation of the South and the Western Bekaa’ on May 23, 2000.  This call laid the foundation for putting an end to Syrian guardianship and to recover sovereignty, independence and the free decision.  Years went by and Lebanon was described as a dying country, but then sprang back, a homeland for life.  After being a battleground for the hegemony of others, it became a witnessing ground for the testimony of its sons and daughters for their freedom and an impetus for the largest popular uprising in modern history.  The Church, with the participation of the majority of the Lebanese people, was able to carve the modern history of Lebanon with the chisel of truth and faith over the rock of injustice and the long night, thus able to save the nation and recover the state.


33.  The independence uprising, in the wake of Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri’s martyrdom on February 14, 2005, opened the gates of national salvation, when the majority of the Lebanese people united in an unprecedented way.  The withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon on 26 April, 2005, after 30 years of guardianship rule, like a dream fulfilled, came to crown the efforts of the Lebanese people and their unification, both at home and abroad.


34.  Today, Lebanese citizens, Christians and Muslims, share numerous concerns, chiefly among them is:


·         The completion of the building of the modern civil state, based on the authority of national institutions and on its duty to exercise its authority and sovereignty over all those residing on its national soil.  Other problems are related to fighting corruption, worries over livelihood which does not distinguish between Lebanese, the respect for human rights, and the making of the Judiciary system an authority, and an independent one;


·         The restoration of normal relations with Syria on the basis of parity, equality and common interests, through a courageous review of the past experience, on the basis that the cost of mutual understanding is always less than that of conflict.  If it is true that between the two states there exist huge disparities as to the nature of the political regime and other issues, it does not negate the commonalities in geography, history, civilization and commitment to the major national causes.  Foremost among these is the national liberation issue and independence, and the on going interconnection between the two peoples across history; and,


·         The normalization of relations between the State of Lebanon and the Palestinian authority, and assuring human rights for the Palestinians in Lebanon, as they await the solution that will allow them to join the future independent Palestinian state.


Nevertheless, the most important challenges related to the political question still lie in the return to the Maronite identity, taking into consideration the expansion of the Maronite Church, for Lebanon to remain a laboratory for Muslim-Christian dialogue in a world witnessing deep divisions in this regard, and in solidarity with the Arab World, in order to refute the notion of the clash of civilizations, which is supposed to place Islam and Christianity in confrontation one against the another.




Chapter Three:


The Challenges



First: Mutual Coexistence


35.  The Maronite Church perceives that Lebanon today is before three circles, overlapping, each affecting the others: The first is related to its current status and its future after regaining its sovereignty, independence and its free decision.  The second is related to the civilization travail that the Arab World is going through.  The third is related to what is nowadays known as the New World Order.  This overlapping between the three stations comes at a time when the world is experiencing enormous acceleration in the movement of history, which renders separation between the internal challenges facing Lebanon and external problems difficult, if not impossible.  We have to define our position and role in a changing world, self-searching in the midst of major queries and exacerbated difficulties.


36.  Lebanon’s role is based on its distinctive experience in mutual coexistence, the destiny of the Lebanese people; but, it is also their free choice.  Muslims, as Christians, experienced mutual coexistence freely and responsibly throughout long centuries.  These were luminous epochs, but not entirely free from difficulties.  Therefore, they do assume the responsibility of cementing this way of life, and transcending its imperfections and problems, since what they have in common is more than otherwise: “They have in common their belief in one God, their belonging to one homeland, and the link of common destiny.”[9]  Mutual coexistence is, therefore, “a responsibility we bear together before God, for God has called us and willed us to be together and to build one homeland together.  He made us in this common enterprise, responsible for each other.” [10]


37.  Mutual coexistence between the Lebanese groups transcends cohabitation or living side by side.  It is a way of life providing the human person with the opportunity to interconnect and interact with the other in such a manner as to enrich the personality of one from the other’s originality, and imparting enrichment in return.  This is done without abrogating the particularities and the differences which become in this case a source of wealth to all.  It is a way of life built on respect for the other in his distinctiveness and uniqueness, not seeking to eliminate or dominate the other, nor imposing on him a fusion negating his peculiarity, or a solitude detracting from his personality through one of its dimensions.  It is a way of life founded on respect for life in its diversity and wealth, without subjecting it to a soil which would strip it of its richness, whether this soil is cultural, social or numeral.  As such, people would be segregated into minorities and majorities, drawing between them demarcation lines which in no time would lead to conflict and collision.  It is a way of life which does not produce a split inside a person between his multiple affiliations that constitute his identity.  Consequently, it does not weaken the cohesiveness of his personality and its integration, providing him with the opportunity of searching for a unified quintessence of his various constituents.  The Maronites who contributed fundamentally in creating this distinctive pattern of life, through their historical insistence on interconnectivity and openness, are ever called upon to rejuvenate the formula of conviviality.[11]


38.  The war that almost wiped out mutual coexistence among the Lebanese people led to major transformations in the awareness of self and of homeland among the Lebanese.  While each group was seeking guarantees beyond the other partner, the independence of 2005 came grounded on a common Christian and Muslim position affirming the right of the Lebanese to have a free and independent nation, and to live in it, different in their religious affiliation but equal in their citizenship.  The Lebanese are required to deduce from the lessons of war and to realize that their destinies are intertwined, and that the salvation of Lebanon would either be for all of Lebanon or not at all, would raise all of Lebanon or would not rise at all.  There is no solution for one group without another, or for one group at the expense of another.


39.  This vocation constitutes Lebanon’s contribution to the enrichment of human civilization.  It is a necessary contribution in this juncture of human history witnessing a difficult travail concerning a question of an existential nature: How can we live together being different yet equal?  It is also a contribution necessary to put an end to the cycle of violence caused by confrontations which position face to face the varied cultural and political identities, turning each into a danger threatening the other, inciting the one with the identity to seek to eliminate the other who is different and is deemed as a threat.  “The biggest challenge facing humanity today is the question of coexistence between the different human families.  How can we live together respectfully and peacefully in the plurality characteristic of our world?  How can we transform plurality from being a pretext for discord and wrangling into an invitation for interconnection and integration?”[12]


40.  Rejuvenating the experiment of mutual coexistence does not only provide a guarantee for the future of the Lebanese, but constitutes a necessity for their Arab environment, and aids in transcending this dangerous phase inhabited by wars and strife of all sorts.  Hence, we must strive to make the Lebanese experiment, in its rejuvenated formula, a model from which to derive benefit for the Arab world, in its capacity as a civilization pattern in the search for mutual coexistence and enhancement in societies characterized by diversity and pluralism.  It is also a way to redefine Arabism in its capacity as a civilization bond which draws Arabs closer to each other, and not a political project which estranges them from each other, and in its capacity as a way of renewing the Arabs’ contribution to world civilization.  This constitutes a Lebanese contribution to extract the Arab World from its deep civilization travail it is suffering from.  “It is a world searching for self and for a formula for its existence and for its own station in today’s world, through which it can be a positive element in the shaping of human civilization and in cementing the supports of stability and peace, emanating from the authenticity of its identity and the uniqueness of its heritage.”[13]


41. “The problems concealed within this travail are numerous, branched off and complex.  We cite the following not as a constraint but as examples: heritage and modernity; political stability; political and social orders; social and economic development; unity in diversity, removed from divisions and fragmentation; religion and society; public freedoms, including religious freedom and freedom of conscience; justice, peace and human rights issues, including women’s rights; dealing with different kinds of minorities; and, their stand with regard to an evolving, pluralistic and diverse world.  The Arab person lives in the midst of all these problems, searching for himself and his identity among the memory of the past and the gates of the future.  In the face of this historic venture, his destiny and future are determined by how well he grasps these challenges, defines their intertwined elements, controls their mechanisms, and by how well he endeavors to deal with them, carefully, wisely, tactfully and patiently.” [14]


42.  The Maronite Church is open-mindedly interactive with the political history of the environment to which she belongs.  Her ecclesiastical presence obliges her to be, in the midst of the society where she lives, a sign of the Lord’s presence in our world, the salt of the earth and its leaven.  The Maronite Church, steadfast in her Antiochene origins and her Lebanese strongholds, lives her Eastern affiliation through her children’s awareness of their vocation and mission.  She is an integral part of the march of civilization in this region of the world, in addition to her cultural contribution in the renewal of Arab heritage and its diffusion.  The Maronite Church took upon herself the causes of the Arab World, and contributed to crystallizing Arab political awareness through the pioneering role of the Maronites in modernity, in the liberation movement, in the intellectual field and in the written media in Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Syria.  Maronite intellectuals were among the first to warn of the Zionist danger, at the onset of the last century, before the First World War and after it.


43.  Lebanon, through its conviviality based on freedom and equality and founded on diversity in the framework of a unity respectful of differences at the public level, forms an ongoing need for a creative interaction between Christianity and Islam offering its sons and daughters the opportunity of mutual spiritual enrichment through this mutual coexistence.  This need has today become more urgent than ever before since the confrontation between East and West has given way for another between North and South.  This confrontation no longer expresses itself through a political formula, such as Capitalism versus Communism, but attempts to give it a religious formula: extremist Christianity versus radical Islam.  Christians in Lebanon and the Arab World are particularly called upon to fight a number of theories in use in the West which regard Muslims as posing a threat, and this leads to delineating bloody borders between Islam and Christianity.  By the same token, Muslims in Lebanon and the Arab World are called upon to resist the theory of a religious war which some extremists exclaim, as if Western initiatives are motivated by religious considerations, when in fact, they are governed by interests devoid of religion.



Second: On the Building of a Democratic Modern State


44.  The formula of mutual coexistence is in need of a democratic and modern state able to protect it and provide the appropriate conditions for its development.  This state is to be established on balancing between citizenship and plurality, that is, on reconciling the two main realms in the affiliation of the Lebanese people: an individual and civil realm defined by the citizenship which is to be applied to everyone with the same conditions; and a collective realm, defined by confessionalism, which desires to acknowledge plurality and its right to self-expression.  The Ta’if Constitution took this distinction between the two realms into consideration, when it asserted in the preamble that “there is no legitimacy for any authority contradicting the Pact of Mutual Coexistence.”



45.  The sought after state is a state providing:


·         The straight forward distinction, to the limit of separation, between religion and state, instead of downsizing religion in politics, or establishing politics on some religious starting points characterized by absolutes;


·         The harmony between freedom, the conceptual basis of Lebanon, and justice based on equality in rights and obligations, without which there can be no mutual coexistence;


·         The harmony between the right of the individual citizen in self-determination, administration of his own affairs and planning his future, and, the right of communities to exist and live according to their own choices; and,


·         The harmony between Lebanon’s independence and the finality of its entity, and, Lebanon’s affiliation to the Arab World and openness to the world.



Third: Reconciliation with Politics


1. Participation in the Administration of Public Affairs


46.  The process of rebuilding the state requires reconciliation with politics.  In the eyes of many, politics is synonymous with maneuvers, disputes, questionable practices and power abuse.  Politics is trampling over principles in order to seize power.  It is the easiest way to amass personal wealth at the expense of public interest.  This kind of political praxis has engraved in the minds of some an erroneous concept of politics, turning it into a condemnable activity. However, “Politics is a high stakes affair aimed at achieving a society in which every person recognizes the other as a brother or sister and treats him or her accordingly.”[15]  Politics is a noble concern, even an honorable art.  Therefore, we must restore esteem to the political endeavor, because politics is a service for the sake of the public good.


47.  Politics is a continuous struggle and a daily practice for individuals as for communities, and is transferred from one generation to another, aimed at finding solutions for the problems of society.  It is there to provide the human person with the right to freedom, justice, peace and a dignified life, far from illusions and oversimplifications, for nothing in politics is a given, but rather is capable to unceasing progress.  In short, politics is taking care of others, taking them into consideration, listening to their problems, helping them, respecting and loving them.  It is urgent for Maronites to restore respect for the political endeavor, which Pope Paul VI described as “the more difficult way to live the Christian commitment in the service of others.”


48.  Maronites are called to be “salt of the earth and light of the world,” committed to whatever service they can render in the midst of society.  This way, their presence in national affairs can be made effective, courageous and perseverant in the affairs of the nation, penetrating into public life in all its political, economic, social and cultural facets, each according to his position, vocation and personal capabilities: in towns, cities, universities, clubs, trade unions, social institutions, humanitarian organizations, movements and parties.  Thus, to attain a society more just and respectful of human rights, requires participation on their part, since it is an inlet into rectifying matters.  This is what the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici warned about, stating: “In order to achieve their task directed to the Christian animation of the temporal order, in the sense of serving persons and society, the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in “public life,” that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good.[16]



2. Conformity to evangelical values


49.  The war contributed in weakening the values system in Lebanon, and the later years witnessed political practices far removed from ethical principles.  For political performance and public interest to be set right, it is urgent that Maronites be spiritually renewed, and rely in their political endeavor on a solid foundation of Christian principles, values and virtues.  Maronites are to strive to restore the luster and meaning to these values, thus serving their country, drawing from their faith the fundamental principles, contributing to the regression of violence, hatred, injustice and oppression, forging a more humane future.  They are to raise their voices in denouncement of all aspects of political and social corruption, and witness to the evangelical values in their country.  These values would henceforth be the watchful eye, so the political and social orders may remain at the service of the human person and in defense of the poor, the marginalized and the sick.  The Maronites are called upon to create favorable conditions for justice and equality for all.


50.  The Maronites’ participation in politics aids in activating political life through the renewal of their leaderships and holding them accountable.  This occurs when they choose representatives enjoying credibility, transparency, behavioral rectitude and intellectual courage capable of furthering public interest over their individual and factional interests; representatives adorned with the spirit of service and sacrifice, having broad knowledge of legislation, the ability to innovate, renew and be aware of the problems of the epoch.  This occurs when they choose representatives who perform through a spirit of peace, dialogue and acknowledgment of the other; capable of bringing about settlement without compromising on principles, and defending with resolve the rights and dignity of the human person; representatives who fight corruption, keep their promises and believe in democracy, plurality and the freedoms.  Then, the talents and virtues deposited with the Maronites will be expended, and the culture of political praxis based on Christian foundations will spread throughout the regions of the country.



3. Fostering Culture and Democratic Practices


51.  The Maronites, who have always demonstrated their attachment to a free, sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon, are called upon to hold on to such a regime and to defend it, since it is the essential condition for the existence of Lebanon.  They are also called upon to contribute further to the fostering of the democratic culture and the concept of authentic citizenship, that is, to exercise democracy in their daily life, giving priority to discussion instead of quarreling.  They are called upon to engage in dialogue considering that the truth is a part of the other person’s thoughts, to make logic prevail over instinct and instantaneous agitations, and to distance themselves from violence and lying in their daily conduct.  Thus, they will pass from the stage of the consumer citizen accepting what is imposed on him, to the effective citizen, influencing his society, capable of change, starting with himself.


What is required of the Maronites, in particular, is exactly what is also required of their partners in the homeland, so that together they may contribute in building “their common home.”  In the end, the Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon focused tens of times on hope, perseverance, firm resolve, tireless and courageous persistence, because we, as believing Christians, must never lose hope, even in the most difficult of situations.  The lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in “public life,” that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good…The administration of public affairs is a path to hope, because it leads to a world we have to build, and through it we can see that transformations are possible so as to improve the condition of humans.”[17]


52.  The youth who are facing difficulties, bearers of hope, dreams and aspirations, are called upon to give social and political life a new impetus.  They have the right to monitor, to require accountability and to express themselves, because their future is tied to the presence of a democratic climate and a sane political environment, and they are the hope of the Church and the nation.  Women, as well, are called upon to a greater portion of participation and responsibility because they contribute to the renewal of the democratic political endeavor with the vitality, openness that they possess, the truthful approach in tackling issues, and the social sense which allows them to remedy daily situations, especially the humanitarian, educational, medical and environmental problems.  Politics is heading toward the future, toward a world we have to forge and to renew.



Fourth: The Maronite Expansion in its Political Dimensions


53.  Today, features of a new era are being drawn before the Maronite Church through the participation of her children in political affairs.  Even though they are closely connected, with the strongest of connections, to the Lebanese entity, in history and destiny, however, some of her children live nowadays in countries far away from their motherland, under various political regimes often different from the one they were accustomed to in Lebanon.  These individuals will undoubtedly remain Maronite and do not enter their new countries lacking any political and intellectual principles to direct their conduct, because, they spontaneously seek the directives of the Universal Church to which they belong.  She calls them to integrate in their new mediums, to participate in public life, in the midst of the peoples and countries where they have become citizens with full rights and obligations.  Certainly, they have become loyally committed to their new homelands, as they were faithfully and loyally committed to their motherland Lebanon.


54.  It has become necessary to study the question of the expansion scientifically and to link it to the national life in Lebanon.  Hence, there is a need to clarify the nature of the relationship between the expatriate or the immigrant and their motherland, and to stress their right to participate through any available means, including election and candidacy.  The Maronite Church is particularly responsible at the level of countering the causes behind emigration through her contribution in building the justice state, which consecrates equality in rights and duties, and secures a decent life for its citizens.  As for the generations who are no longer connected to the motherland, but still cherish their original or acquired citizenship, it is their belonging to the Maronite Church that has become the fundamental tie between them, whatever their national affiliation may be.  They have become bridges of dialogue and understanding between the motherland and the Countries of Expansion, and this is a source of wealth and strength for the Church which has now become a universal apostolic Church.


55.  The Maronites are also aware of some of the changes affecting their life in Lebanon and the Arab region of which they are a part.  However, these variables, from within as well as from without, do not negate the existence of constants in their political behavior, and in their fundamental choices, that is, in all that has become an important and essential part of their cultural, spiritual and social identity as well as the long history linking this identity to Lebanon’s entity.  Pope John Paul II confirmed this course in his Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon, where he calls upon the citizens of Lebanon, including the Maronites, to rebuild their homeland, and change what must be changed, but on the basis of keeping the Lebanon of the future loyal “to its historical vocation.”  It must be emphasized in this context that the Maronites of the expansion are involved in this Lebanese vocation and its preservation in like manner to their resident brethren.  The one in the expansion does not renounce there his human and moral heritage, and if he does, he would be disavowing of his collective self, his civilization heritage and rendering his roots bare from their historical depth.  We are now witnessing the implanting of this matter considering that civilizations are called upon to converge on peoples and integrate in a dialogue, enriching all and benefiting all of humanity.


56.  What is true of any worldwide expansion is primarily true when talking about the Maronite expansion and the reason is that Lebanon is “more than a country,” according to Pope John Paul II.  It is a civilization message par excellence which concerns East and West, and the whole world, especially in these times when the world is seeking new reasons to believe in conviviality between its religions and civilizations.  Accordingly, Lebanon the Message becomes the common base in the political intellect and endeavor of Maronites in Lebanon as well as in the Countries of Expansion.  Politics for resident Maronites revolves around preserving the Lebanon of values and entity, carrying the mission and committing to it in their choices as in their daily life.  It also revolves around developing the country according to the requirements of the age.  For emigrants, politics revolves around spreading a spirit of accord wherever they are to be found, and following the path of civilized dialogue between religions and human affiliations of all types.  In that, there is what urges them to delve deeper into their civilized being, broadening its expanse on new horizons, even if unfamiliar.


57.  In this comprehensive framework, the commitment to Lebanon does not remain a private position taken by the Maronite Church, with preference for a particular homeland over others, but becomes rather a collective conduct through which Maronites safeguard a precious heritage for them as for others.  Lebanon, to which the Maronites and their Lebanese brethren are attached to, is actually an embodiment of values they struggled for together throughout history so as to preserve and elevate their stature.  These values are faithfulness to God regardless of cost, the values of freedom in all its spiritual, political, social and cultural dimensions, the values of dignified mutual coexistence between followers of two major religions in the world, Christianity and Islam, and walking the other’s path, no matter how difficult it is, since it requires egress of self.  This is the way the Maronites understood Lebanon and this is how they wanted it right from the start: a haven of complete religious freedom and all facets of freedom for all its citizens, and a society consecrating equality in rights and obligations among its citizens. They consider that this homeland would not be able to maintain this image were it, God forbid, to lose the characteristic of freedom in it, the characteristic of equality in citizenship, and full participation in government and power among all its citizens.  The present constitution, as amended commensurate with the Ta’if Accord, has found acceptance in the Maronite Church as access to a new unimpaired life in the country.  The Church is indisputably committed to the fundamental values of the nation and activating them in a manner compatible with its historical identity and requirements.


58.  The Maronites have erected new mutual coexistence groups in the world, to which they brought the values of their faith, their freedom and their hands stretched out in cooperation.  However, in the process of reproducing their collective spirit, there is anxiety that they may miss out on something fundamental should they lose connection with their history, or, if this authentic Lebanese experience loses some of its glow and value.  The successes of the Maronites of Lebanon and the Maronites of the expansion are necessarily interconnected if they will to preserve their common identity.  It is necessary for Maronites to discover this identity so that cooperation among them may be more effective in confronting problems concurrent with the continuity of this identity.


59.  One last truth which must be paused at, is that, for Lebanon to be able to accomplish this noble human task, it needs its brethren’s help in the Arab Eastern World in quest of a better future for all.  For centuries Christians have been in daily and direct contact with Muslims in the Arab World, benefiting from the experience of mutual coexistence with its positives and negatives, for the building of a common future, in obedience to Christ’s command, which is the all-encompassing and general love, so we may be “the salt and the light” in our society.


God has favored the region of the Middle East making of it the expanse for His dialogue with the entire human race.  This imposes on both Christians and Muslims a mutual responsibility, considering that everyone is an indivisible part of the life of the society, full-fledged members of the national community with full rights and obligations.  All must work to transcend present difficulties and provide the appropriate conditions for encounter and for constructive dialogue, so that our beloved Orient may remain a good soil to worship God and for the progress of mankind.  “As a matter of fact, one destiny binds Christians and Muslims in Lebanon and the rest of the countries in the region.  They are called upon to build together a future of mutual coexistence and cooperation aimed at developing their peoples humanly and morally.  Furthermore, dialogue and cooperation between Lebanon’s Christians and Muslims might help in achieving the same stride in other countries.”[18]






60.  The destiny of the Maronites and their choice is to hold on to their historical vocation and to be an interconnection factor in this East between its numerous constituents, and between the East and the world, and a propelling force into the future, confronting retardation.  The Maronites are not a minority bound to others by relations of neighborhood and cohabitation, or in search of ways to organize their coexistence with the majority while preserving their specificities.  They are a community which has an active role through its interconnection and interaction with all communities in forging a common future based on the principles that guarantee freedom, maintain dignity and provide a decent life for the human person.


61.  The major challenges facing the Maronites, related to the political sphere, remain firstly, through return to the identity of the Maronite Church built on the values of freedom, spreading the spirit of accord, pursuing the path of dialogue, interconnection and love.  This way, we shall bear witness to Christ in a changing world through individuals and through the ecclesiastical institutions.  Secondly, in developing a new concept of citizenship based on the social contract founded on mutual coexistence under the wings of a democratic state securing the equality of rights and duties of individuals, as well as securing the respect of confessional diversity.  Thirdly, in keeping Lebanon an area for Muslim-Christian dialogue in a world witnessing deep rifts in this respect, and in solidarity with the Arab world to oppose the claim of the clash of civilizations, which supposedly places Islam and Christianity in direct conflict.  Thus, we elevate ourselves to the level of our responsibilities, our authenticity and our mission in this region of the world.  Fourthly, in taking into consideration the globalization of the Maronite Church that she may hold fast to her fundamental constants and choices drawn from her evangelical values.  Also, to follow up on those of the expansion for the purpose of safeguarding their faith and ecclesial identity, to consolidate their affiliation to their contemporary societies, and to encourage them to commit to public life with the aim of building societies capable of solving the problems of the poor and the destitute and dealing with the issues of justice and human rights.





(Text 19)





1. The Constants of the Maronite Church.

1. Preserving the freedom that is religiously and socially ingrained in Maronites and the continued spread of education and knowledge and cooperating with others to consolidate the culture of conviviality and increase the area of the Islamic-Christian embrace.

1.a.: Request the Maronite Research Center to tackle the subjects pertaining to these constants and disseminate them within the ecclesiastical domains and in civil society.


1.b.: Make known to all the  ecclesiastical publications pertaining to these constants and make use of it to the fullest extent.

2. Conviviality

2.a.: Foster conviviality in Lebanon as a way of life based on respecting the other and on firmly establishing plurality.




2.b.: Accentuate conviviality as a necessity for the Arab environment that Arabism may remain a cultural link based on freedom and equality.


2.c.: Foster conviviality as a necessity for the countries of the expansion for a more creative interaction between religions.

2.a.: Establishing mixed institutions or activating existing ones educationally and through the media, and working with national institutions on projects that consolidate the social fabric.


2.b.: Devise new solutions, such as cultural exchanges between schools, universities, clubs and cultural movements and others.



2.c.: Disseminate a common Islamic Christian religious culture which derives benefit on the societies in which Maronites live.

3. Building a State.

3.a.: The authentic state stands on justice, equality, participation and the common good conquering.


3.b.: Conviviality requires a civil, democratic and modern state built on reconciling between citizenry and plurality.

3.a.: An electoral law that takes into consideration proper representation of groups, individuals and regions.


3.b.: Adopting administrative decentralization and refraining from exploiting sectarianism politically in bolstering the participation of the citizenry in administering the public domain.







4. Reconciling Politics.

4.a.: Giving the correct concepts to political action in the light of human and evangelical values.


4.b.: Urging Maronites to participate in administering the multi-faceted public domain in the service of the common good.



4.c.: Purging the memory and purifying consciences for the attainment of the peace which is the true springhead for development and justice.

4.a.: To design a charter for political action based on human and evangelical values.


4.b.: Motivating students and social and media civil society organizations for this participation through enlightenment seminars, formation and workshops.


4.c.: Dialogue between the influential elements of society, especially the youth and women through symposiums deciphering the past and look up to the future in an objective manner aiming at peace.

5. Political Role of the Maronites in the Patriarchal Domain.

5.a.: Assertion as to the one fate binding us and the Moslems, in Lebanon and the rest of the countries of the region, forming the firm basis on which to build together a future of cooperation and mutual coexistence.



5.b.: Support of those of the Expansion to “Lebanon the mission” in the light of the values that they are living in their respective countries.





5.c.: Making use of the mutual coexistence heritage by the politicians of the Expansion as a model for the new relationships of the dialogue of civilizations.

5.a.: Fostering the constructive political conjunction between Christians and Moslems on the basis of the common human and ethical values through the erection of mixed institutions and associations to engage in common political activities.


5.b.: Establishing an emigrant lobby in the capitals of the Countries of Expansion in support for “Lebanon the mission” and the dialogue of civilizations, in cooperation with the existing associations and institutions.


5.c.: Promulgating directives concerning political conformity on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities.



[1]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, No. 20, 10 May, 1997, p. 30.

[2]. Dr. Kamal Salibi: Al-Mawarina, Soura Tarikhia (The Maronites, A Historical Portrait), An-Nahar file, No. 40, 5 January 1970, p. 19.  From the manuscript: Tashreef al-Ayyaam wal-‘Oussour bi-Sirat al-Malik al-Mansour (Honoring the Days and the Epochs through the Biography of the Victorious King) found in the National Library, Paris, Manuscript No. 1704, pp. 94-95.  Refer to the magazine Nour wa Hayat (Light and Life), special issue: “The Maronite Patriarchate” p. 37.

[3]. Refer to: Al-Mawarina wal-Batriarkiya al-Marounia (The Maronites and the Maronite Patriarchate), from Rabitat al-Akhawiyaat (The League of Confraternities) magazine, Issue No. 31, July-August, 1955.

[4]. Refer to Dr. Nassif Nassar’s, Min-al-Mutassarrifiya ila Lubnan al-Kabir, Madkhall ila Dirassat Ittijahaat al-Fikr as-Siyassi ‘ind-al-Mawarina fi-l-Maa-at Sana al-Akheera (From al-Mutassarrifiya to Great Lebanon, Preamble to the Study of the Trends in the Political Thought of the Maronites in the last 100 years), Al-Mashreq, 65th year, parts 1 and 2, 1991, pp. 149-196.

[5]. The Patriarch’s fifth letter on the occasion of Great Lent: Fil-Kanissa wa-s-Siyassa (On the Church and Politics), 1990.

[6]. A short time span separates us from the war and its wounds and its decline.  Actually, it is not yet time to make a final detailed and critical reading and pass judgment on the war years, in its internal and external dimensions, based on documented studies and research.

[7]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, No. 10.

[8]. Memorandum submitted to Premier Rafiq al-Hariri on 6 March 1998.

[9]. Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East: Together before God, p. 27.

[10]. Ibid.  P. 59.

[11]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, No. 92.

[12]. Council of the Catholic Bishops of the East: Together before God, p. 51, No. 39. 

[13]. The Christian presence in the East, p. 8, No. 10.

[14]. Ibid.  P 9, No. 11.

[15]. The French Episcopal Assembly: Pour une Pratique Chretienne de la Politique (A Christian Practice of Politics), 1972.

[16]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: Christifideles Laici (On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World), No. 42.

[17]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, No. 112.

[18]. Pope John Paul II Apostolic Exhortation: A New Hope for Lebanon, No. 93, Solidarity with the Arab World.