U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Expresses Solidarity with Maronite Church
News of the detention in Lebanon of Maronite Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, O.A.M. last month, as he was returning from a routine visit to his Episcopal See in Haifa and the Holy Land, has caused great concern.
WASHINGTON - News of the detention in Lebanon of Maronite Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, O.A.M. last month, as he was returning from a routine visit to his Episcopal See in Haifa and the Holy Land, has caused great concern. In solidarity with Patriarch Bechara Boutros Cardinal Raï and the Maronite Church, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:
“The arbitrary detention and interrogation of Archbishop Moussa El-Hage, the Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and the Holy Land, by Lebanese security, is cause for alarm. The archbishop was returning from one of his regular visits to the Holy Land and bringing much needed aid that the Lebanese diaspora in Israel wanted to send to family members in Lebanon. All this was confiscated by Lebanese security forces, along with his cell phone and passport.
“The Permanent Synod of Maronite Bishops, at a July 20 meeting convened by Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Raï, condemned what happened to Archbishop El-Hage, saying the incident ‘brought us back to the times of occupation and rulers in the previous centuries, when the invaders and occupiers were trying to undermine the role of the Church in Lebanon and the East and its brotherhood between religions.’ The apostolic nuncio in Lebanon, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, has also described the detention as ‘a dangerous precedent.’
“As Lebanon goes through difficult times and crises, we renew our stand in solidarity with Cardinal Raï and the Synod of Bishops. We also pray for the protection of the Church in Lebanon and its charitable work as it comes under increasing pressure. We further support the call of Patriarch Raï for the ‘active neutrality’ of Lebanon, so that it will remain a place of conviviality between Christians and Muslims and a beacon of hope for all Christians of the Middle East. May Lebanon prosper again and enjoy total sovereignty and lasting peace.”