BISHOP OF ALEPPO: LAHAM’S ADMINISTRATION NOT AS BAD AS ACCUSATIONS SUGGEST

Bishop of Aleppo, Jean-Clement Jeanbart, who was appointed by Pope Francis as leader of the Catholic Church after the resignation of Patriarch Gregory III Laham, said in an interview with "The Magazine" that the Patriarch has "handled many projects [throughout his years of service] and, naturally, the more we work the more we are susceptible to doing wrong or committing mistakes."

"Only those who do not work do not make mistakes. He [Laham] might have received wisdomless advice, which led to these problems," Jeanbart said, assuring that the resigned Patriarch "has worked for seventeen years with enthusiasm and sincerity at the service of the Church, making major achievements along the way. However, the minor mistakes that emerged in the recent years have led to a campaign of criticism."

"The administration of Patriarch Laham was not as bad as he was accused of," he said. "There have been some mistakes that may not be attributed to His Beatitude, but to his advisers, especially in terms of real-estate."

"The Vatican did not intervene directly in this issue, even after a number of bishops asked to meet with Patriarch Laham to find an amicable settlement. The situation could have been easier had the resignation submitted to the Vatican two years ago been accepted at the time. However, on the basis of dishonest statements in the media, the Patriarch withdrew his resignation," he went on to say.

"The problem lied in reviving that resignation. We tried to find an honorable way out, and the patriarch accepted to put his resignation in the hands of His Holiness. He wanted the resignation to take place on his birthday in December, but that was not mentioned in the letter of resignation. The Vatican approved it in May, before the Synod, which will take place from June 19 till the 23rd. This Synod will be devoted only to elections," Jeanbart explained, expecting the synod meeting to be held in a smooth atmosphere.

"The bishop to be chosen shall enjoy essential qualities and the necessary charisma to withstand this difficult period of our history. It is a life-and-death cause at this very moment, amid the bleeding, the migration and the wars ravaging us in Syria, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon," he warned, stressing the need to appoint a bishop that can bring people together.

"He must be elected in isolation from his monasticism and his belonging... The priority for me is the Christians of the East. The Christians of Lebanon must be strong so that all the Christians of the Middle East are strong."

He declared that "we do not accept any political interference in the election of the new patriarch," stressing that no bishop has yet officially submitted his candidacy.

As for the situation of the Christians in Aleppo, he said "This war caused misery for many. These two years have been catastrophic. In witness of such a dreadful situation, I launched a program titled 'Politically sinful', whereby I called on believers to return to Aleppo... Today, a large number of the community are thinking of returning, especially those who have been stationed in Europe."

Source: National News Agency