Consul General and Mrs. Antoine Azzam;
Your Eminence Cardinal Egan;
Archbishops Migliore and Aboujaoude;
Bishop Mansour, Beloved Priests;
Metropolitan Philip and my Brother Bishops;
Ambassador Chedid and Salam;
Respected Ambassadors, Consul Generals, and Civic Dignitaries;
Fellow Lebanese and Friends of Lebanon;
It is a joy to share a few moments with you in the hospitality of the Consul General, his wife and respected staff.
Lebanon is once again experiencing some difficult days. We have been through worse, but something is different today. It seems that no true Lebanese desires a return to the years of war from 1975-1990. Moreover, even with painful divisions, and desires on all sides to paint the opponent in the darkest possible shades, there is among the Lebanese a sincere desire to dialogue across confessions, across opinions and across party lines.
It takes courage to see the point of view of the other not as an offense, but as an opportunity to understand and appreciate the other.
The duty incumbent upon all Lebanese and friends of Lebanon is to restore order, parliamentary procedure, civility in dialogue, respect for the rights and duties of the state, and forge a permanent conviviality reflected not only in law but in actions as well.
The opportunity for a new Lebanon is before us. Let us not loose the chance by egotistical or illegal actions that weaken Lebanon. Rather, let us all, no matter what is our confession, party, or opinion, see Lebanon as a sacred trust worthy of our every respect and effort.
Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.”
Patriarch Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir
May 15, 2008
(Reprinted with permission.)