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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Two Flags, Two Challenges

The Lebanese flag (first above) and the Syrian flag (second above) have special significance for Antiochian Orthodox Christians such as myself who are neither Lebanese nor Syrian in the context of the forthcoming withdrawal of Syrian troops from the Lebanon. It is not my role to offer a political commentary on recent events other than to say that a sovereign State may only legitimately enlist the aid of foreign states on its own soil if it so wills.

Speaking as a Christian priest however and one whose Mother Church exists on BOTH Lebanese and Syrian soil, Damascus and Beirut are and will remain spiritual brothers in the Antiochian Patriarchate whatever happens to the political situation on the ground. I take enormous heart from this, for a Christian belongs to a City whose lord is God himself, the One before Whom all kingdoms, empires and republics will bow. This unity and common loyalty to the Lord enables Christians to love their country and defend it provided that such love does not compromise their primary identity as members of one Church and servants of one God.

How this works out now for our Lebanese and Syrian brothers and sisters is up to them but we who do not share these nationalities but who do share the same Church must pray for them and support them in forging a new political relationship for a new century.

The map of the Middle East is indeed changing. If it doesn't happen without peace and justice it will change again less happily before too long. May God's will be done.

1 comment:

Tony said...

The Lebanon is going through the foremost defining moment in its entire history. The recent uprising of the Lebanese against the Syrian army and Moukhabarat is the product of many years of brutal oppression and cruel manipulation. The list of ‘recent’ Lebanese martyrs includes presidents, prime ministers, senior religious figures, leading politicians, prominent journalists and countless ordinary Lebanese people who simply longed to be free. Moreover, a systematic campaign has been raged to destroy almost every national institution to ensure the continuation of a widely despised status quo.

UN resolution 1559 is a landmark step toward freeing a captive state. It only came about because of the Syrian regime deliberate undermining of the Taif accord and after 17 years of deceit and refusal to leave Lebanon. We hope that this resolution will achieve the long term stability of the Lebanon and will result in establishing diplomatic relationship between the two countries as a formal recognition of the sovereignty of Lebanon by Syria. We also trust that the rapid implementation of this resolution will lead to a better relationship between Lebanon and Syria based on equality and the good of people in both countries.

We are grateful for the support of the international community, the Arab nations and the courage of the Lebanese in Beirut and all around the world. With such an overwhelmed support THE RIGHT OF THE LEBANESE TO BE FREE AND TO MANAGE OUR OWN AFFAIRS CAN ONLY PREVAIL and we pray that the current leaders will have the wisdom to rapidly pull out of Lebanon and to avoid the Lebanese and the Syrian a major catastrophe.

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