Cardinal Rai's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia holds high hopes

Cardinal Rai's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia holds high hopes

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Cardinal Bechara Rai is to head to Saudi Arabia Monday, November 13, the first visit by a Christian leader to Saudi Arabia. He will meet King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammad and Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri. Yesterday Hariri said he was "free" and ready to return to Lebanon "soon".

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Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai will visit Saudi Arabia on the first, historic journey of a Christian leader to the kingdom. The cardinal will be received by King Salman and by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He will also seek to meet Lebanese prime Minister Saad Hariri, who has been in Riyadh since November 4.

Analysts and experts point out the importance of the diplomatic mission of a high representative of the Catholic Church, and of Lebanon, in a context of a regional crisis. From the Biblical to the historical dimension of the Christian presence in Arabia, from Islamic-Christian and interreligious dialogue to the Hariri affair, there are many themes at the centre of the meeting.

According to Rai’s spokesman Walid Ghayad, the focus of the Maronite patriarch is the value of interreligious dialogue and the non-alignment of Lebanon in the Middle East as a prerequisite for stability in the country. The cardinal spoke of these issues in recent days during a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who will be closely following the mission of the cardinal in Saudi Arabia.

There will be two bishops accompanying Patriarch Rai, namely Msgr. Bolos Matter, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, and Msgr. Bolos Abdul Aster. The Cardinal will spend the night in Lebanon's embassy to Saudi Arabia, where he will receive the head of the government, trying to understand the reasons behind his gesture and to end the political crisis that has sparked in the Land of Cedars.

Mon, 11/13/2017 - 12:23
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