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Intervention of Mons. Youssef BÉCHARA, Archbishop of Antelias of the Maronites (LEBANON)


My intervention refers to no.25 and 39 of the Instrumentum Laboris where the issue is positive laicism. Further on in no. 109, it has been stated that there is no laicism in the Muslim countries.
Given that the overwhelming majority of Middle Eastern Countries are Muslim and therefore refuse laicism, it would be preferable, for our Synod, to use instead the term of citizenship or civic State. This is a term that is more acceptable and includes the same realities. Moreover it was used by religious dignitaries and Moslem writers in Lebanon and other countries.
Also, the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs, in their pastoral letters, notably those that deal with relations between Christians and Muslims, use the term citizenship widely (no. 32).
But for the reality of citizenship to be admitted, generalized and integrated on the level of constitutions and above all mentalities, a dual task is required:
- at the popular societal level, the means of social communication can be of great assistance. Because , this means anchoring the notions of what citizenship entails, above all the equality of all and the acceptance of religious and cultural diversity.
- at the educational level, in schools and universities, citizenship can be nourished throughout the years of training. A work of purification is indispensable at the level of programs to eliminate discriminations.
This dual task is indispensable if we want to go beyond the level of the elites for whom citizenship, dialogue and even freedom are allowed, in order to be able to reach the masses which can be manipulated and turned towards any sort of extremism.

[00038-02.07] [IN016] [Original text: French]



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