BEIRUT: Good Friday services were held throughout Lebanon by churches following the Western rite as sermons urged national unity and marked the recent election of a new pope.
President Michel Sleiman and first lady Wafaa, joined by a host of politicians and government officials, attended services at the Holy Spirit University in Kaslik, where the sermon was delivered by head of the Maronite Order of Monks, Father Tannous Neameh.
Neameh also addressed the president, saying that “we all rely on your wisdom and steadfastness in confronting difficulties,” and asking for divine assistance in support of Sleiman’s repeated calls for National Dialogue to solve the country’s political impasse in the wake of the government’s resignation last week.
Neameh also highlighted the call by newly elected Pope Francis on the world’s Catholics to earlier this month to “not despair” of asking forgiveness, while noting that the Maronite Church had just marked the beginning of Cardinal Beshara Rai’s third year as patriarch.
In the town of Ras Baalbek, Melkite Bishop Elias Rahhal called on government officials to consult their “minds and consciences and remain distant from selfishness, and arrive at an agreement that will allow our nation and our people to be one, irrespective of their political and sectarian affiliations.”
“We hope that the country will not enter a period of political and security limbo, because we are in the most urgent need of security and safety today,” Rahhal told parishioners.
In the village of Qrayyeh, east of Sidon, crowds gathered for an annual re-enactment of the Crucifixion.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 30, 2013, on page 2.