Intervention of Mons. Mansour HOBEIKA, Bishop of Zahlé of the Maronites (LEBANON)
The focus of my intervention is on purely practical questions, in view of practical
solutions, as our faithful are hoping for. Since Christians have been massively
emigrating from the Near East, willingly or unwillingly, their problem is not simply
the practice of certain rights, but the rejoicing in the right to live in their homeland.
The goal of the Synod should be in the first place to help them maintain this right.
A plea should be made for them to the great powers, in the name of human rights, and
for the countries in which they live, in the name of Islam.
Our young are
usually forced to travel abroad to earn a living. The Church in Lebanon, which has
already done a lot, must mobilize itself more to alleviate the acuity of this crisis.
The solution could be in giving the young plots of land in the form of emphyteutic
bail of 99 years. On these lots, the young persons could build their houses, factories,
any kind of commercial project. Lebanon is considered the school of the Middle
East, the University of the Middle East and the hospital of the Middle East. It has
always been that this private section, held mainly by the Church, is very expensive. The
Church, especially interested in encouraging births could commit with its institutions
to lighten teaching fees for the third and fourth child in the same family, by creating
an aid fund for this purpose; or also by re-claiming from the State with greater insistence
to take from the public budget, fully or just a part of the expenses for private schooling. On
the other hand, as to what concerns the hospitals, we will need to find for families
insurance policies that cost less from insurance companies officially recognized by
the Church or managed directly by her. Concerning job opportunities for the young
people, a sine qua non condition to keep them in Lebanon, we need to mobilize the
Christian Diaspora of Lebanese origin in the entire world and encourage them to invest
in Lebanon to create jobs. Certain bad political choices have caused waves of emigration
that could have been avoided. For these errors not to be repeated ever again, the
ecclesiastical authorities could play a greater role together to stop such unduly
risky positions in being taken. These measures, as modest as they are, would certainly
contribute to reinforcing the Christian presence in Lebanon and elsewhere, to increase
the resilience of families in the difficult economic conjunctures and to encourage
the young persons to get married and to build families.