Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Conclave

Beware of the senile stubbornness of an 88 year-old Patriarch; (Nov. 4, 2009)

A serious conclave of all Christian sects (heretic or not) in the Middle East is required.

First some history is needed to set the background.  The Christian Maronite sect was considered heretic by both the Orthodox Church of the Byzantium Empire and by Papal Rome.  The Maronites were monotheists (One God; not three as of Father, Son, and Virgin Mary) and also they believed in only the spiritual existence of Jesus not his physical nature.  Thus, this sect was persecuted by two strong Empires with central Churches.

When the Crusading forces entered the Near East after sacking Constantinople, on their way to Jerusalem in 1100, the Maronite sect decided to pay allegiance to the Pope.  Thus, this sect was saved from being labelled a heretic sect, doomed for constant persecution, and enjoyed the military and political backing of Rome.

This sect has migrated to the northern mountains of Lebanon after the schism of the year 1000 between Rome and Byzantium, and the subsequent major massacres of the “heretic” Christian sects.  Since then, the Maronite sect obeyed the decisions of the central Catholic Church of Rome, both the spiritual and temporal.

The Church of Rome  was the main temporal decision maker in Europe, and thus the Maronite Church facilitated the infiltration of colonial establishments as trade centers, first in Sidon and then to Beirut, to the French and the Italians.  The British and Russia established also commercial centers in Lebanon and had to circumvent the Maronite influence by encouraging respectively Protestantism and the Russian Christian Orthodoxy.

During the civil war of Lebanon (1975-1991), the Catholic Church proved to be mostly impotent to end the war that relegated the Maronite to the third political power, instead of the first since the independence of Lebanon. It also happened during the civil war that a new Patriarch was to be elected. Rome selected her favorite Bishop and the Christian militias selected their own. No Patriarch could be elected after four rounds of secret voting. Thus, Nasr Allah Sfeir was elected to overcome the impasse.

Since then, Patriarch Sfeir made it a personal vendetta to counter Rome’s interference in the Maronite decisions when opportunities knocked.  This Patriarch was openly favorable to the Lebanese Forces militia during the civil war and going even stronger now.  It is to be noted that the current leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Jaajah, is the officially a convicted murderer a spent 11 years in prison.

Jaajah was politically liberated in 2005 after serving 11 years in prison for assassinating prime ministers, many officials, and running a state within a state, a forming his own court martial tribunals.

Currently, Lebanon is at an impasse: the appointed Sunni Deputy Saad Harriri (with the largest block in Parliament) was to form a unity government five months ago; he failed, delivered his resignation, and was then re-appointed with a mere 72 vote out of 124; Harriri has no success so far to forming a unity government.

Patriarch Sfeir would like us to believe that the majority should form a government so that Lebanon could enjoy a democratic system of parliamentary opposition. Sound sweet to the ears of the non-initiated western politicians on Lebanese political system.

First, the new Taef Constitution, enacted in 1989 during Lebanon’s civil war, striped the Maronite President of major rights and forced upon the Lebanese a system of fair representation by the major religious sects in any government.  Now the Chiaa, the majority in Lebanon (forming more than 45%) of the population), are in the opposition; if they refuse to participate in a government then the President cannot abrogate a government devoid of any Chiaa ministers commensurate to their ratio.

Thus, a unity government is a must to form any government constitutionally.

Patriarch Sfeir know that formula but he is trying relentlessly to put obstacles to the formation of a unity government under the guise of “democratic practices”.  The other problem is that the new Parliament has no longer a majority of Deputies:  Since the election in June, the 8 Druze Deputies of Walid Jumblatt have taken a neutral position, and thus denied the previous majority any claim to current majority.  This fact also, the Patriarch is happy to forget and resumes his senile stubbornness.

What is in line to the Christians in the Middle East? How to go from here?  Since the Christians of all affiliations are confirmed minorities in every States in the Middle East,  I suggest that all Christian sects (heretic or not) existing in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey meet in a formal conclave to decide on fundamental programs of administrative and executive assemblies to regaining their rights as minorities.

It is totally irrelevant to dwell on abstract dogma, but to find pragmatic common denominators for feasible detailed programs for survival as a culture.

I sincerely feel that the major Christian sect of “Roum Orthodox” (over 7 millions in the Near East) change their name:  This name reflects allegiance to a long defunct Byzantium Empire (and current Greece is not a proper political or spiritual substitute). The same will go to all sects paying allegiance in their names so that Christianity in the Middle East reflects a patriotic feeling of belonging to a specific people and nation.

It is urgent that a unity executive body with wide range of power be confident to quickly and swiftly preempt any laws that might restrict their fundamental rights, or encourage other religious sects to gaining rights not proportional to their numbers.

Note:  Three years after publishing this article, Patriarch Sfeir was pressured to resign by Rome (he is over 88 years), and a new more opened minded Patriarch was elected.  It is rumored that Rome knew that Sfeir encouraged the US government of G.W.Bush to resume the war on Lebanon in June 2006, after 33 days of terrible Israeli devastation of our country.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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