March 14 Christians Claim Bridging Differences with al-Rahi

Posted on: June 22, 2012 at 00:12
The misunderstanding between some March 14 Christian officials and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi has ended and talks between the two sides will continue, a delegation that visited the head of the church in Bkirki announced on Friday.

“If there has been any summer cloud with Bkirki, then it has dissipated,” Phalange leader Amin Gemayel said after holding talks with al-Rahi along with the delegation that included MPs Butros Harb, Strida Geagea and Dori Shamoun, and former lawmakers Nayla Moawad, Fares Soaid, who is also the March 14 general-secretariat coordinator, and Camile Ziade.

Bishops Samir Mazloum and Boulos Sayyah also attended the meeting.

Without detailing al-Rahi’s remarks on Hizbullah’s arsenal and the situation in Syria, Gemayel said his statements “could be built upon.”

While stressing the price that the Lebanese paid during the Syrian hegemony on Lebanon, the Phalange leader rejected any Lebanese interference in Syria’s internal affairs.

But said: “Neutrality does not mean remaining neutral in our principles or the Syrian actions in Lebanon.”

He was referring to several security incidents on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

“The meeting was very friendly and positive and we hope that it would set the stage for a new period during which we would meet on new principles that protect Lebanon,” he told reporters.

“It was necessary for us to agree on the principles and the meeting was fruitful in that regard,” the former president added.

Relations between al-Rahi and the opposition’s Christians deteriorated after the patriarch made several controversial statements on the Syrian revolution and Hizbullah’s arms.

March 14 is a staunch supporter of the uprising in the neighboring country and calls for integrating Hizbullah’s arsenal in the state.

“A misunderstanding took place between us and him in the past over statements he made,” said Harb, adding “today’s meeting will mark a new phase of relations.”

Soaid, in his part, told reporters that there was no personal dispute between the opposition and the patriarch. He stressed, however, that March 14 has a clear stance from the local and regional developments.

“The main reason for our visit today is that the country and the region are going through a delicate phase that could have repercussions on Lebanon,” the former MP said.

“So it’s everyone’s responsibility to reach common grounds,” he added.

Geagea also said that al-Rahi heard all the delegation’s concerns which among others want to see the seat of the church above all conflicts and confrontations.

The March 14 Christian officials are preparing a document that sets their stance from the controversial issues, the members of the delegation announced after they handed the patriarch a memo on their vision on the role of Bkirki and the future of Christians in Lebanon and the region.

They said discussions with the head of the Maronite church will continue.

“There are some basic principles that we are not allowed to give up and we will meet Patriarch al-Rahi but away from the media spotlight,” said Moawad.
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