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Church leaders caught off guard by 'Arab Spring,' Maronite patriarch admits

Catholic World News - September 08, 2011

Church leaders in the Middle East were not prepared for the “Arab Spring” uprisings in the region, and reacted with concern and embarrassment, Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara al Rahi has admitted.

Speaking in France, the Maronite leader said that Christians have reason to be leery about revolts that could lead to the rise of militant Islamic regimes. He spoke in particular about concern for “a drift toward extremism” in Syria, a country with considerable influence over his own native Lebanon. However, he also acknowledged the legitimate demands for change in the Arab political world.

The Maronite Patriarch suggested that Lebanon could provide a model for other countries in the region, with its tradition of separation between Church and state and peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims.

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