Press Release from Bkerke
Maronite Bishop's Council

On Wednesday, February2/ 2000 , their Excellencies the Maronite Bishops held at Bkerke their monthly meeting. It was presided by His Beatitude Nasrallah-Butros Sfeir , Patriarch of Antioch and All the East . They studied spiritual and church matters and discussed the current affairs . At the end of the meeting , they issued the following communiqué :

1 – Although some Lebanese see the general situation  in Lebanon to be easing down because of the progress made by the peace process , it seems to us the process is still stumbling . Our proof is that this process cannot be resumed because of obstacles that emerge suddenly in its way;  it stops awaiting what will happen. It has become impossible for people, specially in Lebanon to wait for the unknown, in the middle of a stifling economic crisis that requires future plans to inspire hope .

2 – Among the crisis indications are successive university professors, secondary and other school teachers strikes all asking for salary increase.  Educational Institutes management are unable respond to these demands. The State is suffering from a budget deficit while the students’ parents are enduring economic difficulties preventing them from executing their obligations towards these schools . School management find themselves forced to close  due to lack of enough finances. They fall under unbearable burdens. The issue of schooling and teaching is still unsolved, whereas several countries have been able to support both public as well as private teaching in order not to overburden parents by a double teaching tax .

3 While charging some official employees for embezzling public funds is commendable, the matter turns into bitterness when double standards are applied. Such unfair practices   hinders the administration and scares the employees who hesitate long before they dare to sign any formality .

4 – The feast of St. Maron that falls on February 9/ carries with it this year a special significance. The Roman Committee in-charge for organizing the Great Jubilee celebrations have designated St Maron's feast this year a pilgrimage day to Rome for the Maronites. Maronites from all over the world will visit Rome to fulfill their pilgrimage duty, pray at the tombs of St. Peter and Paul, obtain the Jubilee blessing and that of His Holiness the Pontiff. This is an occasion for renewal of faith in God , confidence in oneself,   work in solidarity, bearing common responsibility with other and, praying for saving Lebanon from its burdens, crisis and hardships.
We pray for Almighty God and ask St. Maron, all saints and holy people for their intercessions to protect Lebanon, its people and bring them peace and love..