Edward J. Brice, Monday 19 March 2001 a.d.

The refusal of the President Bush (or even Secretary of State Powell) to hold a private meeting with Nasrallah Peter Sfeir, Maronite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, is tantamount to refusing a meeting with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. If it is not like denying defensive weapons to Taiwan, it is behaving like England's Neville "peace in our times" Chamberlain and like ignoring the pleas to the defunct League of Nations made by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie before World War II.

The diplomatic snub of this Eastern religious leader, who was in the United States for one month and who speaks for millions in the Middle East beyond his own world-wide flock, will prove to be much more than a footnote to history. It is ominous because there are consequences --about which he could have spoken from experience-- even now being observed by Western governments in Europe, the stepping stone to America for all tolerant or intolerant political and religious ideologies .

Patriarch Sfeir did not come to America with hat in hand for a bailout in American dollars. He sought to discourage a persistent, always anti-freedom hence anti-American, political-military oppression which sometimes wears the trappings of religion. It looms nearer than the horizon, moving slowly but determinedly ahead like an incurable, silent cancer. Could little Lebanon's human and ideological enemies have penetrated America's media, educational institutions and various governmental levels and spheres of influence? The 70-year Soviet threat was inferior to what Patriarch Sfeir and his predecessors have lived through and could describe and warn about because of centuries of first-hand experience by the Eastern Church.

The Maronite Patriarch speaks not only for Lebanon's Christians but for other Christians, and non-Christians like the Baha'is, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, animists, pagans who deserve to live like all of us, and yes! for freedom-loving Muslims in Lebanon and beyond. To have ignored Patriarch Sfeir, whose Church of Antioch predates the Church of Rome and was founded by Peter, is like silencing Winston Churchill. He had warned the West of an ally-turned-enemy after World War II in his "iron curtain" speech. He openly revealed Soviet long range, hostile, imperialist and domineering intentions toward us and our free way of life.

It would be catastrophic if there should ever be a nearly impossible alliance between Far Eastern dictatorship and Eastern religious fanaticism. This could prove fatal to the last islands of Western Civilization in a sea of Asian intolerance. These anachronisms, which could have gone the way of the dinosaurs, still remain as symbols of Western human rights and freedoms. I am speaking of still-free Armenia, endangered and rescuable Lebanon, and the destroyed Balkan barrier to an old Ottoman-like, smothering Eastern ideology and whose NATO-recued "victims" now carry out and spread the vices of "white slavery", prostitution, drug running and gangsterism and more. We Americans do not need Far Eastern nor Middle Eastern vices and ideologies to replace our Jeffersonian principles, Bill of Rights, and Constitution. The wrongs and evils which exist in China, places in the Middle East and Africa, and are knocking at the gates of Europe should be rejected by the West, once and for all. Bravely!

Perhaps, I should believe and trust more the words: "Do not be afraid!" Viva "il papa" Sfeir and his courage!


Edward J. Brice, Knight of Columbus
Journal of Maronite Studies < http://www.mari.org > Deputy Chief Editor

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