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Lebanese Bishops Meet with Leadership of the International Maronite Foundation

The International Maronite Foundation hosted a meeting with the Bishops from Lebanon accompanying His Beatitude Nasrallah Peter Sfeir on his trip to the United States. The meeting was held in Los Angeles.

Opening remarks by Chairman of the Foundation, Edward Salem, focused on the goals and objectives of the Foundation. The primary one of which is to support the Patriarch and the Patriarchy as it works both religiously and politically. The Foundation is growing rapidly in numbers as well as tasks to be performed. However, said Salem, the need is for effective communication and exchange of thoughts and strategy with the Maronite leadership both in Lebanon and around the world. The Foundation has established links and contacts with the various Maronite organizations in the many countries and is assisting in the formation of others.

The Foundation is in support of the patriarch in his call for the removal of all foreign elements from Lebanon. It is working in the United States, especially, and in other capitols, to garner support for the negotiated removal of all from Lebanon and a return of Lebanon to full sovereignty. The Foundation also supports the Patriarch’s position that the Palestinians must not be permanently settled in Lebanon as part of any global Middle East solution. The Foundation is actively working to ensure that the Patriarch’s positions are widely disseminated and given the proper attention at the right levels of government both in the United States and abroad.

The Bishops as a group, expressed their support for the Foundation, and indicated their desire to broaden the communication links between the leadership in Lebanon and the Foundation to expand the areas of cooperation. Specific projects, such as the Maronite League of Lebanon’s project to bring English-speaking youth to Lebanon to familiarize themselves with their roots
and to learn Lebanese during the summer are important and are to be supported.

The Foundation emerged from the actions taken at the International Maronite Congress of 1994. The Bishops urged the Foundation to hold another conference soon. Dr. Eli Ayoub, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Foundation, indicated that plans were under way to hold a conference sometime in the summer or fall of 2002. In the meantime, the Foundation would host a planning conference as a preliminary dialogue with Maronite leaders sometime later this year or in the winter of next year.

A discussion ensued concerning creating a closer bond among the Christian Leadership in Lebanon. By encouraging dialogue and finding common grounds, we can help create a unity of purpose among all. We can also encourage the approach that even though there are political parties and other individual interests, everyone must consider themselves first Lebanese, then Christians and Maronites, and lastly as political groups. If Lebanon, as a nation fails for lack of support from a unified nation, then all will be lost.

Further discussion took place on the ability of the Foundation to influence US policy on Lebanon, and the ability of our officers and members to heighten the focus on the key issues. Active efforts are under way to work with the key policy makers in Washington at all levels to influence US foreign policy activity concerning Lebanon. The Foundation has created alliances
among other Christian organizations to bolster their efforts.

The loss of the youth and middle class families in Lebanon to emigration as they move to Australia, Canada, the US and other lands is a major worry to the Christian leadership. They asked the Foundation to explore activities, both from a political and humanitarian perspective, to assist in creating jobs and careers for the youth in Lebanon, to help it retain the “brain-trust” that
will fuel the economy of Lebanon in the future.

The meeting adjourned to attend the mass of the Patriarch.

In attendance:

From Lebanon

Bishop Bechara Rahi
Bishop Chickrallah Harb
Bishop Boulos Matar
Bishop Tanios El Khoury
Bishop Francis Basissari
Bishop Mounjhed El Hachem

International Maronite Foundation

Edward Salem, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Eli Ayoub, M.D., Chairman of the Executive Committee
Judge James Kaddo
Joseph Ayoub, M.D.
Antoine Khoueiry, M.D.
John Nassar, DDS
Joanna Nassar, OD
Emira Matar



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