Recently we were privileged to listen to a wonderful lecture by Fr Milad Abboud. Father was born and raised in Lebanon and is now living and serving in Germany. He serves a small Maronite community and provides information to the Catholic Church in Germany on how to best assist and settle refugees from the Middle East. He is undertaking his second PhD about how diversity in Lebanon can be a model for East and West. That was also the topic of the lecture which he delivered on Monday night.
Father Milad spoke about how Lebanon had originated as a refuge for communities. Many Maronites originally fled to Lebanon from Syria. The Druze had also sought refuge in Lebanon from Egypt. Over time Lebanon emerged as a nation of various people who had learnt to live together. Father explained that those origins had given birth to a system which required all religions and communities to work together to maintaining the right of each community to practice its religion freely and to maintain the dignity of each person. Each community protects the others right to practice freely and in fullness. Father spoke about how that is an example for all Lebanese in the diaspora to share with the rest of the world.
Father spoke about how through its diversity, Lebanon had been able to build bridges with other countries as each community within Lebanon has its own ties with other countries. He spoke about language and explained that Arabic is not a language of religion, but it had provided an opportunity for non-Islamic communities to better understand and appreciate their Muslim brothers and sisters in their own language and take that to the rest of the world. Father explained how Lebanon’s institutions promoted diversity. Between 30-35% of students in Christians schools in Lebanon are Muslim and this teaches children from a young age, both Muslim and Christian to work and learn together, respect each other and not fear each other. Father reminded us of Jesus’ human identity and how by becoming man Jesus reflected all of humanity.
Father reminded us of the example of Blessed Yaacoub Capuchin who set up institutions for the poor all over Lebanon and explained that the well that gives water does not ask what religion the person seeking the water is. In every poor and outcast person there is Christ and we cannot close our doors to the needy because of their religion. He explained how in Germany the Church does not ask what religion a person is before taking them in.
As Christians we must seek to live our faith in freedom in the West and we must seek that for our Muslim brothers and sisters also. Father explained how Lebanese in the West could bear witness by promoting the example of Lebanon and how Muslims in the East could demand protection of Christians in the Middle East, because they serve as a bridge for them to the rest of the world.
Christians of the Lebanon know that not every Muslim is ISIS and they need to declare that. We must remember we do not live for ourselves, we live for others and both clergy and lay people must demand the right for everyone to live in the dignity and freedom of their religion.
We really would like to thank Father for his beautiful and courageous talk about a topic that we know some may not agree with. He is a true Christian witness and we hope to continue to be in contact with him and bring you his work in English in the future.
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