Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Youth Movement Rejects the Plan for a "Civil Commission"

From the Oct. 1 al-Akhbar. Arabic original here.

The Pastoral Gathering and the Orthodox Youth Movement in Jbeil rejected the plan for establishing a "General Civil Comission for Greek Orthodox in Lebanon" on the grounds that it will establish an "unholy alliance" between the Church, power, and wealth.

Last Saturday, more than 700 Orthodox attended a meeting in the Patriarch Houayek Hall of St. Joseph's School in Jbeil representing the Orthodox Pastoral Gathering and the Orthodox Youth Movement and announcing their rejection of the plan for a "General Civil Commission for Greek Orthodox in Lebanon."

The meeting precedes the session of the Holy Synod of Antioch that will take place tomorrow at Balamand Monastery and will have on its agenda the plan for establishing the Commission, which will be made up of "a segment, most of whom are current and former ministers and deputies, general directors, business-owners, and economic and financial players..." Its competency is acting as a liaison with the Lebanese government, "defending the rights of the community" and ensuring solidarity between the dioceses.

Those gathered described the plan as "dangerous" as it "takes us more than sixty years backward, to a time when people were calling for a separation between spiritual and temporal affairs. It will inject the community into the sectarian mudpit, something that did not even happen during the war. It entrusts the community's affairs to politicians and men of wealth and influence, without regard to their relationship with the Church and so makes power and wealth into the representatives of the community." Those gathered rejected signing "on the dotted line for whatever it may be, or for the politicians to take over their community. They are earthly, dependent, divided between March 8 and 14, but the Church is specifically spiritual."

Ibrahim Rizq, general director of the Orthodox Youth Movement, said to al-Akhbar, "It was assumed that we would meet the demand to strengthen the participation of the faithful in the life of their Church and in putting forward Antiochian canons-- especially with regard to parish councils." He pointed out that "the canons have not been respected in our Church, despite the necessity of this for decades."

Rizq repeated that the plan, "does not bear any evangelistic or spiritual trait, but rather limits its concerns to strengthening the community's position. It divides that which is civil from what which is not and this is foreign to Orthodoxy. More dangerous that that, it establishes an unholy alliance between the Church, money, and power." He added, "If we follow the logic that says that the community must act according to what its interests require, like the other communities, what prevents it according to this logic, from taking up arms, for example?" and made clear that "we Orthodox are united by the Church, not by interests." He pointed out that he had contacted theologians from among the monks, nuns, priests, and the Youth Movement, and that there was a near total consensus rejecting this plan "since the saints advocated for the poor and challenged power and wealth."

In turn, the co-ordinator for the Orthodox Pastoral Gathering, Nicholas Louka, rejected the plan as it separates the dioceses of the See of Antioch in Syria and Lebanon. He fears the dangers represented by the plan in not applying the canon for parish and diocesan councils and its preventing the gathering of a General Orthodox Assembly. He said, "we reject that those with power in the eyes of the world be in charge.  Likewise, this plan will insert Orthodoxy into sectarianism, so it can take its slice of cheese like the others."

The metropolitans of the See of Antioch from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the diaspora will meet tomorrow. It is rumored the the metropolitan of Mount Lebanon, Georges Khodr, is inclined against the plan, as is the metropolitan of Tripoli, Ephrem Kyriakos.

It is certain that the road to Balamand will not be blocked with tires, as the Orthodox affirm that this is not their style. They are convinced that "the Holy Spirit Himself is the One who will cause the plan to come out into the open after having been surrounded with secrecy. He will take action and cancel the plan."

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