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Statue of St. Maron dedicated at Vatican; no word on Maronite Patriarch's resignation

Catholic World News - February 23, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI blessed a statue of St. Maron, the founder of the Maronite Catholic Church, before his public audience on Wednesday, February 23.

The 15-foot marble statue of the 5th-century Syrian monk stands in a niche in the outer wall of St. Peter’s basilica. Having exhausted the available room for statues inside the basilica, the Vatican in recent years has added statues of notable saints on the outside wall.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman was at the Vatican for the dedication of the statue, acknowledging the enormous influence of the Maronite Church in that country. Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir also joined in the ceremony.

Cardinal Sfeir, who is 90 years old, has submitted his resignation, and there was speculation that the Pope might use the Lebanese prelate’s visit to Rome as the occasion to make that resignation official. But no announcement was made.

The Maronite Patriarch had met privately with Pope Benedict earlier, and their conversation probably touched on the timing of the resignation announcement. Because the Maronite Synod of Bishops would elect his successor, one critical consideration is the replacement of other Maronite bishops who are now beyond the normative retirement age, so that their successors would be able to participate in the Synod vote.

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