Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai warned that the Christian presence in the Middle East is shrinking and Church leaders “are called to face the winds that blow in our homelands”. Source: Crux.
The assessment by the patriarch of Maronite Catholics during a meeting of the Middle East Council of Churches executive committee on Friday underscored the dire reality facing Christians in the tumultuous region.
“The ship threatened by strong winds and waves” that is sinking symbolises “the witnessing Church in the sea of our Middle Eastern countries troubled by the winds of conflicts and wars, political, economic, financial and livelihood crises, and the corona epidemic,” Cardinal Rai said.
The cardinal also explained at the meeting he hosted at Bkerke, the Maronite patriarchate north of Beirut, that the threat “reached its climax” in Lebanon with the catastrophic double explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4. The disaster left nearly 200 people dead, injured another 6000 and displaced more than 300,000 people.
Cardinal Rai stressed that the MECC is called in such turbulent times to work with churches and their leaders, institutions and the faithful “to face the waves and winds that ravage their homelands … with stances of faith and hope”.
“We ask you, Lord, through the intercession of our Mother Virgin Mary, the Star of the Sea in the storm, to lead our homelands, our churches and our people to the port of safety,” Cardinal Rai prayed.
Cardinal likens fading Christian presence in Middle East to a sinking ship (By Doreen Abi Raad, CNS via Crux)