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Maronite Patriarch mourns slain Lebanese leader

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir and Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Luigi Gatti yesterday visited the family of assassinated former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Harir, who was killed with at least 15 others in a Beiruit suicide car-bombing on Monday.

"This crime goes against our traditions, and Hariri's death goes to the exclusive advantage of Lebanon's enemies," said the Patriarch in a statement released yesterday. "The Maronite Church shares in the family's mourning, and shall not forget the important role played by Hariri in national politics. His legacy will be kept alive in Lebanon's memory."

Patriarch Sfeir has called an extraordinary synod of Maronite bishops for today. The meeting will ponder the social implications of Monday's terrorist attack.

AsiaNews reports that the Vatican's nuncio, Monsignor Luigi Gatti, also went today to the Hariri home, located in the central area of Beirut west, accompanied by Archeparch Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite patriarch of Damascus.

Monsignor Gatti has always been very close to the Hariri family. The late Rafic Hariri himself had maintained close ties with the Christian world and the Vatican. Photos of Hariri with the Pope were published on the front-page of various Lebanese newspapers yesterday.

Hariri died at the age of 60. He had resigned on 20 October, after weeks of tension and a political impasse related to a constitutional amendment, considered to be the result of Syrian pression, which extended President Emile Lahoud's mandate.

Currently, many are accusing Syria of being behind Hariri's assassination. However, pro-Syria Interior Minister Suleiman Franjiyeh countered these interpretations, saying in a press conference that "Hariri was not part of the block opposing Lahoud and Syria".

Patriarch and Vatican's nuncio offer their condolences to Hariri's family ( 15/2/05)

Maronite Patriarch
Opus Libani
Maronite Catholic Church of Australia

Lebanese Church leaders mourn slain leader (Catholic World News 15/2/05)
Architect of postwar Lebanon dies in his city (The Age 16/2/05)
Beirut blast 'was suicide attack' (BBC 15/2/05)
Lebanese Vent Anger on Syria After Hariri Killing (Reuters 15/2/05)

16 Feb 2005