IMF Congress 2002
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Statement of Unity

We, the faithful men and women of the Maronite Church, are called upon to consecrate ourselves  to a preservation of our  identity, both in and out of Lebanon, with a common theme of perpetuating the practice of the faith and the cohesiveness of all Maronites.  Further, it is imperative that each and every Maronite, unite in full support under the leadership of the Patriarchy as an institution. The voice of the Patriarch is the symbolic and real sound of the Maronites in pain and suffering and in joy all over the world. Without the united support of the Maronites of the world, his voice will be stilled and the sound forever silenced.

Unity in purpose, unity in action, and unity in support must be the primary objective of the Church and this Foundation that supports it.  The primacy of the Patriarch as the single most important spokesman for the interests of the Maronites, and those issues which affect them, is the Foundationís goal.  Right or wrong, the spiritual leader of the Maronite Church is, indeed, our leader.  All Maronites must unite under his leadership.

The term "unity" has many definitions.  For our purposes, we speak of unity as a condition of harmony or accord: continuity without deviation or change in purpose or action, focused specifically on the issues pertaining to the Maronites, their leadership, and those conditions that affect them. All Maronites must lay aside their personal experiences and/or  allegiance to specific movements, causes or individuals in order to develop a Maronite cohesion in support of our common goals.

It has always been our contention that what unites us is singular and not debatable. We are not a political party: we are members of a church. The only choice we have is to be Maronite or not to be Maronite. Faced with this stark reality, it is our choice to work within the system of the Church or to go outside thereby losing the right to the label Maronite.  This may be frustrating but in this simple choice lays the core of our strength. Enlightened leadership by the Patriarch with strong support by the laity will give Maronites the structure of  "unity" we desperately seek.

It becomes much easier to accept the proposal for unity if we remember our history of centuries of sacrifice by countless numbers of people. Our efforts should be directed to the reasons for their sacrifice: our faith.   We must address and acknowledge what has gone before. Many in recent years have labored, fought and died under this banner. This is part of our history that we should readily acknowledge and accept. But if we are to go on we must not internalize this experience to the extent that it paralyzes our work.  We are fully aware of the pain, suffering and bloodshed of the past. But as a people of faith concerned about our community we must bind up our wounds and move on to create a future of universal religious and political fulfillment. 

It is from our history, as a people of triumphs, losses, successes and failures, that we must learn as we plot our future course at this unique point in our history.  We stand at the threshold of   a new era with the potential for a lasting peace in the Middle East following decades of war, domination, and occupation in our ancestral homeland, Lebanon.  Will the Maronites have a role in Lebanon?  This paper reviews that history in an attempt to answer this question.

 

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