De-christianization of Lebanon !!!
By: Abdo Jeha
In comment on the Daily Star article (November 25, 2003) about
warnings by the recent assembly of Lebanese Catholic patriarchs and bishops as being
alarmed at the de-christianization of Lebanon, I would argue that it is the failed
policies of the Maronite Church in particular, and the Church in general, over the past
quarter of a century.
1. The Church stood on the sidelines, ignoring the long term effects of its inertia.
2. The Church then reactively colluded with the ruling regime and Syria in acquiescing to the Taef Agreement for so-called pragmatic reasons, when the reality was that the Church did not want to see its role eroding to the more secular forces unleashed by Prime Minister Aoun. It therefore went into the Taef deal to maintain its privileges like the feudal families and the
political establishment did. Even today, the Church continues to identify the causes of this "hemorrhage of human resources" as the lack of "appropriate and faithful" application of the 1990 Taif agreements, when the Church knows very well that the Agreement itself is the cause of the hemorrhage and that it made a mistake in sanctioning it. The Church must denounce the Taef agreement as a failure, reject it officially and publicly, and call for a substitute agreement between the Lebanese that begins by demanding the departure of the Syrians from the country.
3. The Church had no visibly coherent foreign or domestic policies. It never used any leverage it claims to have with foreign powers and decision-makers; it never took any risks in voicing its opposition to the Islamic threat as posed by Syria and Hezbollah.
4. It allowed the loyalist patriotic forces in Lebanon to be banned, exiled, dismantled, and annihilated, while Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Islamic organization was allowed to thrive under the Taef Agreement.
5. The Church never used the leverage it has with the Vatican to demand a cessation of hostilities against Lebanon's peopl, Christian and Moslem alike. The Vatican has completely abandoned its moral standing by abandoning the only thriving Christian community in the Middle East. Pope John-Paul fought hard against Communism and rescued Poland, but sold Lebanon to the Arabs.
6. Where is the Maronite Batrak to stand up and publicly denounce - at a large press conference to which the entire world press is invited - the Syrian occupation, announce the death of the Taef regime, and call his people to civil disobedience until specific demands and policies are met and implemented to slow down, and eventually stop, the drain of Christians and
non-Christians from Lebanon?
7. You hear one message from the Batrak in Beirut, then another when he is outside Lebanon. In speaking from both ends of his mouth, the Batrak is playing a game. He is being a politician. He is not a statesman (if he wants a political role), and he is not a leader (if he seeks to be a moral leader).
8. The Batrak is a total failure who is overseeing the decline of the last standing Christian community in the Middle East, and his complaining and lamenting about it won't help. Before it is too late, he must have the courage to demand it, even if it requires political theater and even if he must blackmail the Vatican into doing something about it. Otherwise, he and Pope John-Paul will be held responsible for the annihilation of the Christians of Lebanon and the Middle East. They will be the ultimate traitors to their own people and their own cause, and their people will never forgive them.
For those reasons, I, a Maronite, hereby call for a conversion en masse of the Maronites and other Christians of Lebanon into Protestantism, and seek the protection of the Anglo-Saxons instead of the Latin French and the Vatican who, under Chirac and John-Paul, also sold the Christians to Hariri, Nasrallah, Syria, and Islam. As we speak, there are ongoing negotiations
across the US with several Protestant churches to lay the ground for a long-term sustained program to establish Protestant schools, churches, and colleges in Lebanon, and begin the process of anglicizing and de-Latinizing the Christians of Lebanon into a Protestant stronghold in the Middle East. That is our only way to remain alive in the region, and is timed very well
with the increasing penetration of the United States in the region.
The Church has directly caused the exodus of the Christians of Lebanon. People stay when they have leaders to lead them. People leave when they feel they are alone and abandoned. The Christian community of Lebanon has lost and will continue losing ground in Lebanon so long as the Church is part of problem, part of the political establishment, and tries to maintain its
privileges by making political deals and alliances with those it knows will hurt Lebanon and their people on the long run.
This is the Daily Star source,
Christian group frets emigration
But crisis also plagues Muslim communities
Adnan El-Ghoul -Daily Star staff
The US-based International Maronite Foundation recently published a report saying that the emigration of young people and middle-class families from Lebanon was a major concern of the Christian leadership. The foundation claims that many Christian communities have been marginalized in their own areas and overwhelmed by surrounding demographic changes that have minimized their influence in the community. It is estimated that throughout the recent war, close to 900,000, the vast majority of them Christians, left Lebanon. Only a fraction has since returned, the report said. If naturalization of the remaining Palestinians in the country, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, goes through as part of an overall peace settlement, then the Christians will be in even more dire straits.
US and EU lawmakers have recently recommended settling Palestinian refugees in host countries on a permanent basis, triggering criticism by Lebanese officials and expressions of fear of demographic instability by community leaders, especially Christians. According to the foundation, Lebanon is being steadily and irreversibly Islamized.
However, others argue that the fear of Islamization is being used as an enticement to encourage Christian emigration.
Michel Doumet from Bsharri said Christians were deeply rooted in this land and no one should believe the claims that we are threatened by Muslims taking over and replacing us.
He added that the problem is not solved by wishful thinking or by exaggerating it beyond its real dimensions.
³Christians are actually leaving the country and encouraged to settle wherever they go in Western countries, he said. What is needed is to find ways to stop the emigration altogether, for Muslims and Christians alike. The emigration of Arab Christians from the Arab world to the West is a significant setback for the future of Arab society. The Christian presence, as an authentic strength, preserves diversity and helps to maintain a balanced view, said Prince Talal bin Abdel-Aziz, a brother of Saudi King Fahd, in an article published in Beirut and other Arab cities recently.
³Despite the end of the civil war, Christians are still emigrating in equal numbers as other communities. The majority leave for economic reasons while only a small fraction emigrate for political reasons,² Salim Hajjar, an elderly man from the Western Bekaa village of Mashghara, told The Daily Star.
He added that because of economic stagnation, land and trading companies are abandoned, fields and orchards neglected, and land is being sold through international and local lawyers to people who we donıt know.
To Hajjar, the danger lies in leaving the country without intending to come back.
³In the end,² he said, we will all find ourselves losers, both Muslims and Christians.
Statistics from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia confirm this trend, showing practically equal emigration percentages among Muslim and Christian communities, especially for the Shiite and Maronite populations.
However, according to Doumet, ³the emigrating members of most Muslim families often return and build houses in the village or buy apartments in big towns and cities,² which explains why some Christian communities appear more abandoned than some Muslim villages. Who will take over our land or live in this big house after I am gone asked Kafa Abu Jawdi of Jouret al-Ballout, Metn. We own this big house, in addition to an extensive piece of land ? I refuse to sell the land because only foreigners offer to buy it. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lebanon Risks Losing Its Young People
Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops Sound a Warning
BKIRKI, Lebanon, NOV. 25, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Economic and legal difficulties and social marginalization are forcing young people to leave the country, the recent assembly of Lebanese Catholic patriarchs and bishops warned.
The assembly's final document said emigration by young people has reached alarming levels in recent years. The phenomenon could "empty the country of its youth," the bishops lamented.
Lebanese people have always been travelers and emigrants, the Web site AsiaNews.it said in its report on the assembly. What is new now is that young people are leaving the country with no intention of returning.
When identifying the causes and proposing solutions to halt this "hemorrhage of human resources," the assembly called for an "appropriate and faithful" application of the 1990 Taif agreements, which sanctioned the end of the civil war that bloodied Lebanon since 1975.
The assembly, which was held in Bkirki, headquarters of the Maronite patriarchate, brought together Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir; Armenian Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX; Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III Laham (represented by his vicar, Monsignor Salim Ghazal), and several bishops of the different dioceses.
The topic of the annual assembly, which ended Nov. 16, was emigration and the diaspora.
On another matter, the prelates alluded to "non-parity sovereignty" in reference to the Syrian military presence in the country, which causes imbalances. "One part of the population dominates the other" and "those who are close to the poles of influence monopolize all state functions," the assembly's final statement said.
In 2002 the Church already spoke out against the exclusion of Christians from political life. In his Lenten message Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir said he was convinced this sentiment was the cause of the emigration of many Christians from Lebanon, who felt they had "no role in the country." In addition, the prelates noted that the norms for military recruitment are also responsible for preventing the return of young people to Lebanon. In this connection, Patriarch Sfeir requested that young people who were either born or resided abroad for more than five years be excluded from military service. The present law on military service dissuades many Lebanese parents in the diaspora from registering their children in Lebanese consulates abroad, Patriarch Sfeir explained. In the economic plane, the assembly stated that 70% of Lebanese who emigrate do so for exclusively financial motives -- hence the necessity to create new job opportunities in the country. In this connection, the bishops appealed to the government to elaborate "a plan of general and equitable development."