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     Home > Synod >  2010-10-16 11:18:42
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Intervention of Mons. Georges Nicolas HADDAD, Archbishop of Baniyas, Caesarea Philippi, Paneade of the Greek-Melkites (LEBANON)

The Lebanese building is shaped around article 9 of the 1926 constitution which stipulates that: “There shall be absolute freedom of conscience. The state in rendering homage to the Most High shall respect all religions and creeds and guarantees, under its protection, the free exercise of all religious rites provided that public order is not disturbed. It also guarantees that the personal status and religious interests of the population, to whatever religious sect they belong, is respected.”
Lebanon is without a doubt one of the rare countries where community pluralism is not yet accompanied by a predominance of one community over the others. To maintain the balance is one of the most delicate tasks.The “Lebanese system” offers a significant example of freedom of religion and conscience worthy of being protected. This leaves just the material application which gives rise to several points to clarify and especially develop in respect of human rights:
- Despite the clarity of Article 9 of the Constitution, freedom of religions and conscience still belongs to the 18 historically recognized communities, by decision 60 LR of 1936 (12 Christian, 4 Muslim, one Druze and one Jewish). All those not part of these find themselves excluded from all rights to practice their liberties.
- Any attempt marked by proselytism by one or the other communities can cause extreme and sometimes violent reactions.
- All conversion is perceived as a deep attempt on the community of origin of the person converting and constitutes a major social break of the converted person with his neighbors.
- Inter-community dialogue is still infrequent, and sometimes refutes simple formal and occasional contact.
In fact since Vatican II, the Church tries to find a regulating matrix between the Truth of the Word and the values of freedom. The means used in this sense remain the actions undertaken by the institutions of the Churches in Lebanon, especially those that educate and dispense social and humanitarian actions.
Education and assisting others being the cornerstone of all reinforcing of freedom of religion and conscience.
To promote and strengthen these two parameters will be the challenge that our Churches will have to face, because all dialogue and all freedom cannot exist unless the intellectual bases it on the basic and the reflex; freedom of religion and conscience cannot proliferate unless in an educated atmosphere and without great social and financial disparities.

[00099-02.02] [IN075] [Original text: French]


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