Father Michel Rouhana accuses the Lebanese and their organizations of being terrorists and criminals
Our people in occupied Lebanon are subjected to all kinds of oppression and deprived of their basic human rights, especially freedom of speech. We live in a time when the vicious brotherly irony hegemony and its appointed Beirut puppet regime are impoverishing the Land of the Cedars and mortgaging the future of its children. In an era where all Lebanon’s official affairs are run through a remote control directly from the Syrian headquarters at the town of Anjar. At a time when the powers of evil and darkness are devouring Lebanon’s independence, resources, free decision making process, citizenship, economy, work labor market, history, culture and identity. Despite all these horrible atrocities inflicted on our people in occupied Lebanon, we have never envisioned that the Lebanese in Diaspora would be exposed to such practices and even worst on the hands of a Maronite priest. Presumably, a man who has devoted his life to serve God and His church, this Antonin Maronite priest, Michel Rouhana, has claimed the ownership of Jesus’ Church and accordingly banned ten of its prominent members from worshiping and practicing their religious rituals. Why did he do so? Simply because they oppose his odd conduct and do not see things eye to eye with him.

What has happened in Toronto at "Our Lady of Lebanon Church" on Sunday September 23 has been nothing less than what is taking place in occupied Lebanon. As explained in our previous releases, Father Michel Rouhana had unjustifiably refused to allow the Canadian Lebanese national coalition of clubs, organizations and political groups from offering a mass in the annual remembrance of the late President Sheik Bashir Gemayel. He also attacked Sheik Bashir’s picture at the church entrance and broke its frame in a blatant abuse of power on September 16.

Father Rouhana proceeded with his oppressive behaviour and went as far as calling the Canadian police, alleging that he was humiliated and attacked, where the police found no such claim to be true after talking to many eyewitnesses. Even though all his claims were found to be non-substantial he proceeded in taking legal and ecclesiastical actions against local Phalanges, Lebanese Forces and Lccc Chairmen, in addition to another seven parishioners, six of them members in the CLHRF and very active in the parish. All seven members received trespassing notifications issued by Father Rouhana banning them from attending the church, or getting involved in any church activities whatsoever or they would face legal charges. After receiving such letters the members decided not bow down to this kind of bizarre conduct.

On September 23, 2001 eight members of the coalition given the trespass notifications headed to the church with their families to attend the mass as they do every Sunday. Outside the Church they saw a police car parked on church premises. The moment they entered the church after the mass has already began, Father Rouhana’s voice tone changed and seemed to be disturbed and restless. He proceeded with very apparent anger. After reading the holy bible, the deacon read several canon law articles, the same ones that appeared on the trespasses issued to the ten members. The milieu prevailed among the parishioners was similar to a military tribunal.

Thereafter father Rouhana delivered an extremely hostile sermon through which he was very angry, outraged, loud and aggressive. He even ordered the banned members to leave the church immediately because he has forbidden them from participating in the masses. There was no response to his orders and the parishioners went on with their prayers ignoring his behaviour. He also exercised special religious rituals in a very bizarre pattern claiming he was purifying the altar after it has been contaminated by the LF, LCCC and Phalanges Chairmen who in the previous Sunday addressed the parishioners after the mass was over and asked them to pray for Sheik Bashir (the priest refused to pray for national figure). The three chairmen were not even near the altar, they addressed the parishioners from the pulpit (the Koraya).

After the mass was over, the parishioners were surprised to see four more police cruisers with several parish members crowded beside them. At this time father Rouhana who had left the mass after giving his sermon to call Division 11 (police station), was telling the police officers why he had issued the trespasses notifications. He boldly accused the banned members to be terrorists, members of terrorist organizations and actively involved with terrorism acts. He even accused them of plotting to bomb the church, asking the police that the Canadian authorities should arrest them.

While father Rouhana was escalating in his bizarre false accusations, several members of the community dignitaries and founders of the Church intervened. They reprimanded Father Rouhana openly for his conduct and asked him firmly to put an end for his nonsense. They reminded him of his role as a priest, which apparently he had abandoned, indicating to him that he is not fit any more for the holy position he is upholding. Here, the police intervened and asked Father Rouhana, some parishioners (members in the CLHRF), church council chairman (had resigned his position recently because of father Rouhana’s conduct) and two dignitaries to talk privately. The two dignitaries informed the police officers that the parish runs the "Our Lady of Lebanon Church", (the property is registered under the "Congregation of the Order Antonin Maronite in Ontario), and accordingly he as the representative of the Antonin Order does not have the right to ban any parishioner from the Church". They also made it clear that since the establishment of the church 20 years ago not even once were the police called. But since the appointment of Father Rouhana 14 months ago, calling the police has become a routine act every time Father Rouhana involves himself in conflicts with the parishioners. The police considered their involvement in such very individual and private matters a waste of time.

All the parishioners who attended the mass were extremely annoyed because of Father Rouhan’s odd and unjustifiable conduct. Many of them made him aware openly and loudly in front of other parishioners of their stance and feelings. Father Rouhana was firmly informed that he has to put an immediate end to his nonsense because matters in question are not anymore the concern of the ten members he banned, but the concern of the whole parish who is really fed up with his management style that is dividing the community and emptying the church from its members.

In the same context of Father Rouhana’s hostile, anti-Lebanese, suspicious and irrational behaviour, He gave lately very dangerous statements in an interview on the CBC radio station. The following is a verbatim script of what he said:
"Although I have been in Canada only for 14 months, I have noticed on (since) my arrival that Canada is giving too much visas and hosting too much people without too much security or a security system. I can underline that terrorism or activity is a state of mind psychologically in many people. When they host persons coming from guerrillas, armies, from terrorist groups without checking and without making them pass by a psychological test to know that their brain is completely changed, not only identity. They can be like bombs with in the community. They are ready to do any thing for some dollars for the yeast to kill and the yeast to bomb cars. They are experts in these things.
We have a member (s) of the Lebanese here who came here who are experts in bombarding, mining, terrorism, killing and any thing of these things, and to show it in their character they are ready to attack their church some times. They attack the priest if he does not do what they like because they have been brainwashed to reach what they want at any price".

The Lebanese Community in Canada is extremely outraged for these very dangerous and irresponsible statements made by Father Michel Rouhana. Many members, especially the Canadian Lebanese political and social organizations have contacted their lawyers to sue this priest, the Maronite Bishop for Canada, Joseph Khoury and the Maronite Antonin order, for slender, spread of hatred, endangering their lives and falsely accusing them of being terrorists.

We call on all those concerned to sign the petition asking for Father Michel Rouhana’s immediate transfer.

For the CLHRF
Elias Bejjani
Camille Saade
Edmond El-Chidiac