Maronite Patriarch visits Israel, despite critics at home in Lebanon
May 26, 2014
Maronite Catholic Patriarch Bechara Rai became the first leader of the Lebanon-based Maronite Church to visit the state of Israel, traveling to Jerusalem to greet Pope Francis there.
Cardinal Rai had faced criticism in Lebanon for making the trip, as some Lebanese resented the prelate’s willingness to visit a country which has not reached a formal peace agreement with Lebanon after the military incursions of the 1980s. The Maronite leader has responded to those complaints by saying that his trip has spiritual rather than political goals.
During his short stay in Israel, the Patriarch visited a monastery outside Jerusalem and a Maronite parish in Jaffa, a city adjacent to Tel Aviv.
- Lebanese cardinal visits parish in Israel, becomes first top Lebanese cleric to do so (AP)
- Lebanese prelate under fire for plan to visit Israel (CWN, 5/9)