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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Maronite patriarch hopes election of Lebanese president speeds unity

Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, welcomed the election of a new Lebanese president, ending a two-and-a-half-year power vacuum that had crippled the country’s government institutions.

The cardinal also expressed his hope for the acceleration of a unified government and “direct action to save Lebanon from the political, economic and social suffering.” He urged newly elected President Michel Aoun and politicians to heed the words of the apostle Paul, to forget what lies behind and to forge ahead to the future.

Under Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the presidential post is reserved for a Maronite Catholic. Aoun, 81, elected on 31st October, is the only Christian head of state in the Arab world.

Aoun’s election follows 46 successive failed attempts by the legislators to elect a president since the mandate of former President Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014, a reflection of the sectarian power struggle that define the country’s political arena. Aoun is the 13th president since Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943.

Cardinal Rai and other Church leaders have repeatedly called for the election of a new president.

Picture: The Lebanese parliament elected 81-year-old Michel Aoun, pictured in 2015, as president on 31st October, ending a two-and-a-half-year power vacuum. (CNS photo/Nabil Mounzer, EPA).