The Beirut based Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch Cardinal Beshara al-Rai has expressed his intention to accompany His Holiness Pope Francis on his forthcoming visit to the Holy Land (Jordan, Occupied Palestine and Israel). The Maronite church has an active community in the area and clergy do cross between jurisdictions but this will be the first time that a Maronite Patriarch has gone to Israel a country which is still in illegal occupation of parts of south Lebanon, the Syrian Golan and the Palestinian Territories including the Holy Places in east Jerusalem old city.
The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon has written an open letter to the Patriarch asking him to reconsider his proposed trip. The letter can be read here
Extract from a news report by the Catholic media outlet asianews.it: "The protest is unnecessary,"....... "the Pope has honoured us with his visit to the diocese of patriarchy and it is normal that the patriarch should welcome him," he explained....... In noting that he would not meet Israeli leaders, the patriarch said he was "aware that Israel is an enemy state that is occupying Lebanese territory," but he insisted that he respects "Lebanese law." Read the full article here.
Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reports that, the Greek Orthodox Church in the Holy Land has dismissed an Israeli Arab priest who publicly voiced support for Christian Arabs serving in Israel's army, a church spokesman said Thursday. Read more here