Within the general crisis there are also fears about the future of the country’s Christian community. Some suggest that up to 70 per cent of the Christians that are still left in Lebanon is ready to leave as soon as Beirut airport reopens.
According to Mgr Bechara Rai, Maronite bishop of Jbeil, it is a real crisis for Lebanese Christians. If the “New Middle East” project that some have envisaged is implemented it may be too late for Christians.
The concern though is not limited to Lebanon but touches Christians across the Middle East. Pope John Paul II himself said that “the Christian presence in Lebanon is a necessary condition for the presence of Christians in the Middle East”. ~AsiaNews
More importantly, if there is a mass exodus of Christians from Lebanon, that country will be even more in thrall to Hizbullah and even more under the influence of Hizbullah’s patrons. If it results in the exodus of a significant part of the Christian population and the relative empowerment of Hizbullah, it is the very definition of a counterproductive military campaign. If Hizbullah’s becoming stronger was what the supporters of this campaign wanted to stop from happening, they couldn’t have chosen more poorly. If Christians in this country had wanted to find a more effective means of uprooting the Christian communities of the Near East, they could not have done better than to endorse the Israeli offensive in its entirety. Without a relatively strong Christian presence in Lebanon, as the quote from John Paul II suggests, the further marginalisation of Christians throughout the region will proceed even more rapidly (and democratisation will only hasten their complete marginalisation).