Patriarch Yawsef III Younan and US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea emphasize importance of continued Christian presence in Lebanon and the Middle East

ASHRAFIEH, Lebanon – During a friendly Christmas meeting on Tuesday, December 27, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Mor Yawsef III Younan and US Ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, expressed the importance of a continued presence of Christians in the country. An existence worth defending in Lebanon but also more broadly in the entire Middle East. The US ambassador praised the Syriac patriarch for his actions and position taking for the continued existence of the Christian population in Lebanon and the Middle East.

Shea stressed the importance of getting out of the political quagmire as soon as possible by electing a new Lebanese president – always a Syriac Maronite by convention – without outside interference. The latter is probably a veiled reference to Iran and Syria, two countries which are under US sanctions. The US ambassador stated that her country and the patriarch have the same goal, namely the best possible future for the Lebanese people, and that the US wants to help in this, but that extraordinary political and economic decisions must be made for this.

Lebanon suffers heavily from the economic crisis that has lasted for years now and a decades-old political system in which power and economy are divided between the various factions and denominations that Lebanon has. The Syriac patriarch asked the US to help pull Lebanon out of the crisis and assist its people in these difficult times. He especially pointed to the threat of further emigration by young Christians from Lebanon because they see no future prospects in their homeland. He blamed the current political leaders for putting their own interests above those of the people. He stressed “the great responsibility of the Lebanese Christian political officials who must work for the good of their country and make every effort to maintain the Christian presence in Lebanon”.

Mor Yawsef III Younan spent 22 years in the United States and Canada in pastoral service, first as a priest and then as the first bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch in North America.

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