Armenian church leader calls Lebanon back from the brink of collapse

Armenian church leader calls Lebanon back from the brink of collapse

By staff writers
13 Jan 2007

The former moderator of the World Council of Churches, Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church, says Lebanese leaders need to sustain the democracy they have and not continue fomenting insecurity that could easily trigger more unrest in Lebanon, reports Ecumenical News International.

"Lebanon is again in conflict," said Aram. "Despite the self-constraining efforts of parties to restrain the current conflict to political and democratic boundaries, a small spark can ignite the tense atmosphere and lead the country towards unpredictable and uncontrollable situations."

Aram, who is Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, conducted a Mass for the Armenian church's celebration of Christmas on 6 January 2007 and delivered a sermon in the St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Antelias, where government officials and a large number of faithful were gathered.

Lebanon's opposition-backed labour unions on 11 January suspended protests against government economic reform plans, but the Hezbollah movement said it would soon step up a campaign to topple the government.

Protesters have since 1 December camped outside Prime Minister Fuad Saniora in Beirut seeking to pressure him to give more power to the opposition in a new government of national unity or to call early elections.

"We are destroying Lebanon. We are driving the people towards hopelessness," Aram warned in his sermon. "Where are we as spiritual leaders? Where are the government officials, where are the civil society, the political and party leaders? There is a lack of political maturity and common responsibility. Political culture is at the doorsteps of bankruptcy."

Aram said nobody had the right to drag Lebanon into "uncertainty and polarisation". He said, "This people only witnessed war, poverty and blood for 30 years. A whole generation was formed in these circumstances. Let this people live in peace and dignity."

The Catholicos said Lebanon could no longer be a stage for regional and international conflicts. "Let's not allow others to meddle into our internal affairs. No matter how respectable others are, Lebanon's prime interests are not up to bargaining," said Aram.

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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