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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai hailed Friday the steadfastness of Christians in the Holy Land, saying his visit to occupied Jerusalem was meant to reinforce the Christian identity of the city.Rai's visit is the first by the head of the Maronite Church to the Holy Land since the state of Israel was founded in 1948 and is intended to fit in Pope Francis' three-day pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories that begins Saturday.Rai responded by saying that the people who welcomed the visit outnumbered those who criticized it in Lebanon and other countries.The anchor continued to bombard Rai with questions about the disputed visit.The anchor asked whether such a visit could become the norm for future patriarchs, with Rai reiterating that he was in charge of the church.While Rai has stressed that his visit to the Holy Land had no political motives, Hezbollah and others have criticized the visit, saying such a trip could be seen as a bid to normalize ties with Israel.
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