BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called for dialogue between Lebanese political factions, urging them to stop conveying their personal opinions as the “one and only absolute” opinion.
“Dialogue does not mean letting go of your opinion or outlook,” Rai said during Sunday Mass at his summer residence in Diman. “It is abandoning the claim that they are the only absolute [truths]."
The patriarch said the presidential void resulted from political inflexibility, urging factions to “abandon their personal interest” to accommodate rival opinions and outlooks.
Rai called on factions to employ “bold initiatives” that challenge the ongoing gridlock before the next session to elect a president, which is set for Sept. 2.
“Political factions are aware of personal and group barriers to [elections],” he said.
Lebanese politicians have been unable to agree on a consensus candidate and elect a new president to replace former President Michel Sleiman, whose term expired May 25. Speaker Nabih Berri along with MP Walid Jumblatt have launched contacts to end the political deadlock over the election. On Thursday, 10 lawmakers from Aoun’s bloc submitted a draft proposal to amend the Constitution to allow the president to be elected via a popular vote.
Speaking of the exodus of Christians from Iraq, Rai renewed his call to the U.N. Security Council to condemn the assaults of terrorist groups, urging the international community to halt financial and military aid to terrorists.
The patriarch also urged the rehabilitation of churches, homes and institutions in Iraq to curb the migration of Christians from their homeland.