Prime minister Najib Mikati came out of the his closed meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican on the 28th of November 2011 , with a sign of gratification on his face. It is true that Mikati’s inner peace comes from his strong faith, his moderation, openness and humility. But his inner peace has recently reached a new height, thanks to the dignity of the place and the warm welcome that Lebanese prime minister who is a Sunni Muslim believer and practitioner received from the Supreme Pontiff. The Lebanese PM came with his family to contemplate and receive the pope’s blessing. They probably came to pray as well, depending on every one’s religion and way of worship. After the meeting, there were public talks about the meeting where Mikati told the pope that “the immigration of Christians in Lebanon is far from being linked to religious causes, it is rather due to difficult economic conditions from which all Lebanese people are suffering regardless of their religious belonging”. However, both the Pope and Mikati made sure to un-reveal the “secret” of the meeting and keep it safe from the “Bazar” of politics, confessions, sects, outbidding, slogans and exploitation, in order to guaranty the fulfillment, success and sustainability of the secret in question!
Mikati proposed to the Pope an initiative underlining the need for the establishment of a “fund to support Christians” in Lebanon. The fund would receive the Pontifical blessing, a European support and contributions from neighboring friendly countries in addition to the contributions of institutions, banks, funds and affluent Muslims and Christians from Lebanon and the world. The fund aims at protecting the Christian presence in Lebanon (and the East) while safeguarding coexistence and activating the role of Christians in developing the country and promoting “its message”.
The fund would also participate in encouraging Christians to stay attached to their land and refrain from selling it or being compelled to leave it... The fund might fulfill its goals provided that it addresses the socio-economic element by implementing a developmental procedure including the restoration and construction of churches, houses, educational and cultural facilities and small and medium enterprises. The fund would also grant soft loans to young Christians in order to put an end to Christian and non-Christian immigration. Both parties of the meeting underlined the need to guarantee the highest level of transparency, credibility, financial auditing and accountability in terms of the fund’s incomes and expenses. The fund should also adopt “best practices” and abide by international standards and criteria when determining beneficiaries and the way to spend the money. Therefore, the “fund” should be kept away from the “culture” of squandering, corruption, favoritism, influence and illegal enrichment.
As for today, with the start of His Holiness historical visit to Lebanon, the challenge that we are facing is to prove our capability as Christians and Muslims, from the opposition and pro-government, to fulfill this “dream- initiative” that was secretly launched by Mikati in the Vatican. Thus, we are all entitled of transforming this dream into a palpable reality, a “miracle”… dedicated to those who still believe in “miracles”!
The Arabic version of this article was published on the Lebanon-based Annahar newspaper on Sept. 13, 2012. The writer can be followed on @HayekMG