PrintEmail This Page
Pope Francis bestows upon Issam Fares the Papal Order of St. Gregory The Great
25 Apr 2015

Fares: There is no fear over Lebanon no matter how intricate were the difficulties

In a chat with the media delegation accompanying the Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rai to Paris, former Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares declared 'there is no fear over Lebanon irrespective of the Lebanese officials' conduct because the Lebanese population is a mighty, creative population that is capable of meeting the challenges no matter how intricate were the difficulties'. He indicated that Lebanon has witnessed many complicated circumstances that the Lebanese people has been able to overcome'.

Fares voiced regret over the prevailing situation in Lebanon, mainly the presidential vacuum which he deemed as unacceptable, saying, 'in the past, Lebanon used to witness foreign intervention in the presidential elections and the election of a president. However today very unfortunately, meddling is practiced in order to obstruct the presidential elections, which is absolutely unacceptable'.

Fares raised hope 'for God to inspire the Lebanese officials to reach an agreement over the name of the future president and to elect him the soonest possible, deeming that this serves Lebanon's and the Lebanese people's interest so that the constitutional institutions would assume their role and the situation would restore to normal'. He emphasized that 'there is no fear over the Christians, neither in Lebanon nor in the East, since they represent the essence of the entire region and exist for more than 2000 years before all other sects'.

The former Deputy Premier conveyed his thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis for bestowing upon him this Order, saying, 'It is an Order for Lebanon and all the Lebanese, not only for me', stressing that the Vatican is Lebanon's guardian and protector. Fares confirmed his comeback to Lebanon, saying, 'this homeland is mine, and I carry it in my heart and conscience wherever I go, and no matter how much time passes, I will come back'.

Pope Francis bestows upon Issam Fares the Papal Order of St. Gregory The Great Patriarch el Rai to Issam Fares: 'Lebanon needs you. Do not leave it'.

His Beatitude Maronite Cardinal Bechara Butros Rai bestowed upon H.E. Mr. Issam Fares the high-level Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great from the Rank of Commander in appreciation for his person and for his humanitarian and developmental initiatives and contributions in support of the church that seeks to disseminate the culture of reconciliation and peace in Lebanon and the Middle East, and to promote the Christian presence there in order to preserve the Eastern traditions, according to the Papal BULL.

The BULL was read by the Patriarchal Vicar of Rome Monsignor Toni Gebran in a ceremony and banquet thrown by Fares in honor of Patriarch Rai at his Paris residence. Among the attendees were Mrs. Hala Fares, wife of His Excellency Mr. Issam Fares, their daughter Miss Noor Fares, and Mr. Issam Fares son, Nijad Fares.

The remarkable ceremony was attended by a number of diplomatic figures and religious dignitaries among who were Their Eminence Bishops Boulos Sayyah, François Eid, and Naser el-Gemayel, Lebanon's Ambassador to UNESCO Dr. Khalil Karam, Lebanon's Ambassador to the Arab League Mr. Butros Asaker, the chargé d'affaires at the Lebanese Embassy in France Ghadi Khoury, Monsignors Amin Chahine and Joseph el Boueiri, Father Abdo Abu Kasm, head of the Catholic Media Center, the Maronite Patriarchate speaker Walid Ghayad, and a number of friends.

The event was inaugurated with a speech pronounced by Mr. George Arab in which he paid salute to the Maronite Patriarch and to Mr. Issam Fares who represent two pioneer models in serving love and the values of dialogue and peace. Then Bishop François Eid read the Papal BULL in Latin, translated into Arabic by Monsignor Tony Gebran who explained the symbols of the Papal Order first established in September 1831. Later, Patriarch Rai presented to Fares the Papal BULL and conferred upon him the Papal Order, and offered to him the icon of Jesus Christ and the Maronite Patriarchal Medal.

Following the memorial photo, Fares pronounced a speech in which he fervently conveyed his thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis for his leadership of the universal Church in a spirit of justice and evangelical peacefulness. He addressed the Patriarch, saying:

'Your address reflects an authentic Lebanese voice that proved to the world that 'He who writes in ink is never like him who writes in the blood of his heart'. You have carried Lebanon in your conscience and with all diligence and sincerity, and you loudly appealed for the officials to hear the country's suffering. It is painful to hear again today a Lebanese discordant tone and to witness influential foreign meddling that has impeded the election of a Lebanese President, symbol of Lebanon's unity'.

Fares wondered, 'On whom does the responsibility fall? It is on the Lebanese system, on all parties, or on some of them? And who will benefit from Lebanon's collapse?. Your Beatitude, we are still relying on the effort you exert on the altar of the country and pledge to remain by your side, with hands joined. We also pin high hopes on the loyal Lebanese to work, jointly, for Lebanon's salvation, to help Lebanon remain the pearl and 'lighthouse' of the East'.

For his part, Patriarch Rai addressed Fares, the personality that is imprinted with a spirit of service and openness, and concerned by the causes of justice and development. The Maronite Patriarch declared:

'It is a pleasure for me to bestow upon you the high-level Papal Order granted by His Holiness Pope Francis, the Order of St. Gregory the Great from the Rank of Commander, which adds to the Papal Order conferred upon you by Pope Benedict XVI. This Order and all the high-level various Orders previously bestowed upon you, whether by the church or the state- whether Lebanese, French, American, Russian, Greek, Cypriot, and Bulgarian- in addition to the Honorary Doctorates from Russia and the United States, have all been worthily conferred upon you in recognition of the achievements you realized, the institutions you established, and the generous funds you allocated to promote university teaching, culture, and scientific research, and to equip the university libraries and laboratories in Lebanon and overseas. Moreover, the greatest merit emanates from your political achievements and realizations in Lebanon, whether in the parliamentary forum for two eras, or in your office as Deputy Prime Minister in three governments. You had served as a typical example in the practice of the legislative and executive authorities, in your giving, dedication, and impartiality. We assume you are greatly suffering today for the situation we have reached, resulting from the malpractice of those two authorities in our beloved Lebanon.

It is worth to laud your 'Fares Foundation' for its endeavor to support the social and cultural activities, to provide scholarships for ten thousand students, and to build university buildings and specialized affiliates and libraries in the American University of Beirut, the University of Balamand, the American University of Technology, Notre Dame University – Louaize, La Sagesse University, and in a great number of public schools; not to forget also your lately established Issam Fares Institute of Technology that is affiliated to the University of Balamand, covering an area of 100,000 square meters.

On the occasion, we would like to express you about our deep thanks for your great generosity and amiability, especially that you put, at our disposal, a private jet that transferred us, as per your request, from Armenia to Paris, and then to Beirut, and that you hosted us and the accompanying delegation at Rafayel Hotel.

Upon our arrival to Paris, we were surprised by more generosity which is the high financial contribution you made for us to buy the Seat of the Maronite Patriarchate of Meudon. We ask Almighty God to reward you and your beloved family for this initiative and to pour his blessings on you.

With the attention you devoted to your institutions and companies that you established in Europe and the United States of America- which include seventy thousand employees- you have dedicated great attention and generosity to bodies and organizations that are honored of your membership- among which I thankfully cite the Qabbounine League for Message and Heritage, that is affiliated to the Patriarchal See of Diman'.

The Patriarch went on saying, 'We celebrate this occasion with a great pleasure but with a suffocating heartbreak because of the presidential vacuum in Lebanon which turns out its 11th month, and because of the chaos, paralysis, and corruption it generated in the country, as well as because of the ongoing wars in the Middle East, mainly in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and the continuous war in Palestine and the Holy Lands. What is also extremely regretful are the international community's indifference, triviality and un-intention to reach peaceful solutions, to break the war cycles, and to devotedly endeavor for the realization of a just and comprehensive peace.

'As for us in Lebanon, it is very shameful for the political and parliamentary blocs not to undertake any effective, responsible initiative that would bring to a halt the presidential crisis that stubs the presidency, the Constitution, and the National Accord, as well as the nation of a country and its citizens. From your national residence, we call upon all political and parliamentary blocs to shoulder their responsibilities and to undertake a bold initiative away from any personal or sectarian interest that go beyond the high national interest'.

The Patriarch wrapped up, saying, 'Facing the developments prevailing in Lebanon and the Middle East, and thanks to the good characteristics God bestowed upon you, we tell you that your homeland Lebanon needs you, so do not leave it or forget in in its suffering'.

It is worth to mention that Mr. Issam Fares had been conferred on June 16th, 2010 in Paris of Saint Gregory the Great on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of his humanitarian contributions. His Holiness Pope Benedictus VXI had then bestowed on Mrs. Hala Fares the Patriarchal icon of Our Lady of Qannoubine in recognition of her humanitarian and social roles.

Ten years later, a second Papal Order is bestowed upon Mr. Fares on the 25th of April 2015, the Order of St. Gregory the Great from the Rank of Commander.