The head of the world’s Maronite Catholics, Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai (old/broken link: https://www.stmaron.org/Patriarch%20Bechara%20Rai.html), held a press conference at CNEWA’s headquarters in New York City this morning as part of his first pastoral visit to the United States since his election in Lebanon last March.
During his hour-long briefing, the patriarch spoke of his desire to seek dialogue and consensus with other religions, and expressed his hope that the “Arab Spring” will be “a real spring … that will lead to greater freedom and democracy.”
In an opening statement, he also asked for the world to “remain vigilant” as change sweeps over the Middle East.
“The church abhors the use of violence to meet any goal,” he said. “Violence can never be justified. We want to see a Middle East renewed in its respect of human rights and dignity, especially for minorities. We want to see people electing democratic governments and holding them accountable. It is important to point out the role the Christians played in upholding democratic principles, freedoms and human rights in the Middle East. This is why a Christian presence there should be safeguarded and the role of Christians strengthened.”