Pope Sends Condolences for Death of Cardinal Sfeir, Patriarch Emeritus of Antioch, Maronites
May 14, 2019. ‘A determined architect of encounter, peace, and reconciliation’
The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolences to Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, O.M.M., Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, for the death of Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, who was Patriarch of the same See from 1986 to 2011 and died on May 12, 2019, three days before his 99th birthday.
“Lebanon mourns the loss of Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir,” wrote Vatican Service Missionary Gianni Valente to Fides News Agency. He said that the Lebanese government proclaimed two days of national mourning for the next 15 and 16 May in order to pay tribute to him.
Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir began his ministry in the last years of the civil war as Christian armed militias clashed, recalled the same source, and worked for independence, sovereignty, and interfaith coexistence during difficult phases of the recent history of the country, such as the period during which Lebanon was de facto under the tutelage of the Syrian regime of Hafez el Assad.
“The Patriarch Emeritus is also celebrated for the role he played in the reconciliation between Christians and Druze and for his support for the Taeff Accords, a treaty to end the Lebanese civil war ratified by the Lebanese Parliament on November 5, 1989, “added Fides.
The following is the full text of the telegram:
Telegram of the Holy Father
His Beatitude Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï
Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bkerké
Having learned with sadness of the death, in his ninety-ninth year, of His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch emeritus of Antioch of the Maronites, I address my deepest condolences to you and to his family, and to all the faithful of the Patriarchal Church of Antioch of the Maronites, which he led for many years with as much gentleness as determination. Free and courageous, Cardinal Sfeir exercised his mission in a troubled context and was a determined architect of encounter, peace, and reconciliation. An ardent defender of the sovereignty and independence of his country, he will remain a great figure in the history of Lebanon. I ask the all-merciful Father to welcome to His home of peace and light this wise and committed pastor, who showed the love of God to the people who had been entrusted to Him. As a pledge of consolation, I address my Apostolic Blessing to you, Beatitude, as well as to the family of the deceased Cardinal and his loved ones, to all those who accompanied in his later years and to those who will take part in the funeral celebrations.