IMF Congress 2002
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Media Release
Press Contacts:
Dr. Eli Saade (330) 759-2705
Ed Salem (714) 220-4920

The International Maronite Foundation strongly supports the Patriarch and the Council of Bishops on their strong statement calling on the nation to address its relationship with Syria. It is time the national dialogue began on the issue of Lebanese sovereignty and the national government's exercise of its constitutional role. We support the Patriarch and the bishops on their strong call on the President and the Parliament to begin this national dialogue and to engage the Syrians on a redefinition of the individual national roles and responsibilities.

The Patriarch's call for open dialogue should be considered as an opportunity to develop a consensus among the Lebanese body politic to develop a working relationship centered on the concept of a "strategic alliance" between Lebanon and Syria that would preserve their individual sovereignty. The only beneficiaries of this definition can only be a strengthening of the social and economic ties between the two nations, and the development of a security alliance.

We believe in the right and duty of the Patriarch to teach and preach to his people. He has the moral duty to set forth his thoughts as well as the collective thoughts of the bishops of his church on the circumstances and conditions that impact his people. He further has the inalienable right to speak out to redress conditions of wrong that he sees in his jurisdiction. This by no means contravenes the national authority to govern, but sets out the opinion of the church. It may be argued by some political leaders that this position does not agree with every Maronite in Lebanon. This may be true. However, the Patriarch and the Bishops carry the responsibility of speaking out on behalf of the downtrodden and oppressed.

The statement does not break new ground or reveal new positions. These have been the positions of the Patriarch and the Bishops for a long time. The forceful call on the government to act now is both timely and proper. Further, the Foundation believes that it echoes the desire of most of the citizens of Lebanon, regardless of their religion. The time has come for the people of Lebanon to become masters of their own destiny, while becoming a part of a comprehensive security alliance in the region.

We urge the government of President Lahoud to take steps to refine the definition of the relationship between Lebanon and Syria, and to act according to the treaties and United Nations Resolutions heretofore taken regarding Lebanon. We echo the position of the Maronite League of Lebanon in that "The statement should be an occasion to launch an honest national dialogue that deals with the country's basic issues on the political and economic level, as well as on the level of Lebanon's ties with Syria."



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