Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

March 23, 2011 14:32 ET

Minister Kenney Issues Statement Recognizing the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2011) - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, congratulates Maronite Catholics in Canada on the election of their new Patriarch.

"Last week, at Bkerke in Lebanon, the synod of the Maronite Catholic Church elected Monsignor Beshara Rai, the Bishop of Jbeil, as the 77th Patriarch of Antioch and All the East of the Maronites.

"I would like to congratulate Maronite Canadians on the occasion of this successful conclave. Maronites are rightly proud of their ancient rite, in which they have always maintained an unbroken Communion with the Holy See.

"I would also like to recognize Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, who made a pastoral visit to Canada in 2001, and who offered his resignation to the Pope last month, for his twenty-five years of faithful service as Patriarch. I had the honour of meeting His Beatitude on two occasions at Bkerke and attending the Divine Liturgy at which he presided. He is a man of great wisdom and dedication to his people.

"As Patriarch Rai begins his new service to Christians of the Maronite tradition and to the Lebanese people, this is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of tradition and of religious freedom. Many people around the world crave those blessings which Canadians have always enjoyed in peace and security.

"Being one of the Eastern Catholic Rites, the Maronite Church is also a concordant reminder of the beauty of unity in diversity, which is a proud feature of Canada's multi-faceted culture. Canada has always been home to French and English Roman Catholics and, in bringing their treasured religious patrimony with them, many Canadians of Lebanese background have enriched an old Canadian religious milieu with the addition of a distinct ritual culture.

"Once again, I congratulate Lebanese Canadians of the Maronite Church. May the Patriarchate's new leadership bring them continued blessings."

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Alykhan Velshi
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Communications Branch
    Media Relations