By Devin Watkins
“I extend my deep condolences to his family, and to all the faithful of the Patriarchal Maronite Church of Antioch, which he governed for many years with such gentleness and determination,” wrote the Pope in a telegram sent Tuesday to Cardinal Rai.
Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir served as the Patriarch of Antioch between 1986 and 2011.
He died on Sunday in Beirut, Lebanon, after a long illness. He would have turned 99-years-old on May 15th.
Architect of peace
Pope Francis called Cardinal Sfeir “a free and courageous man” and “a key architect of mediation, peace, and reconciliation”.
“A staunch defender of his country’s sovereignty and independence, he will remain a great figure in Lebanon’s history,” said the Pope.
Cardinal Sfeir served as the spiritual leader of Maronite Catholics during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.
“I ask the Father of all mercy to welcome into his home of peace and light this wise and committed Pastor who knew how to manifest God's love to the people entrusted to him.”