BEIRUT: Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorius III Lahham said Thursday that the patriarchate had purchased triple the amount of real estate units it had sold recently.
Delivering a speech at the opening of a conference for prominent figures of the Melkite Greek Catholic sect in the Metn town of Rabweh, Lahham said all the real estate sales carried out by the patriarchate had been made in accordance with special laws and permissions and had been executed with transparency and accountability.
Media reports that emerged recently said the patriarchate had sold 75 plots of land between the years 2001 and 2013.
But the patriarchate issued a statement clarifying that since Lahham had taken up his post, the patriarchate had actually sold only 39 units, 27 of which were to Christians in Abra, an eastern suburb of Sidon.
“The inaccurate reports replicated numbers and cited apartments sold before the year 2000 but were only registered later on,” Lahham said.
For many Christians, land sales to non-Christians constitute an existential threat, particularly given that the size of their sect in Lebanon has sharply decreased over the last few decades.
The Maronite church and other Christian orders have consequently made several calls urging Lebanese Christians not to sell their land.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 06, 2014, on page 3.