Who is the Patriarch?

A question that lately has been asked frequently. We will be shedding some lights on the identity of the Patriarch in general, and our reigning Patriarch, Mar Bechara Peter Cardinal Raii in particular, in our bulletin, starting from this issue until July 2nd.

Starting with the code of Canons of Oriental Churches Canon 55 states:
“According to the most ancient tradition of the Church, already recognized by the first ecumenical councils, the patriarchal institution has existed in the Church; for this reason a special honor is to be accorded to the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches, each of whom presides over his patriarchal Church as father and head.”

Patriarch Rai holds a degree in philosophy and theology and a doctorate in
canon and civil law from the University of Saint John Lateran (the Rota Tribunal
in Rome). He taught Canon Law and theology at St. Joseph University in
Beirut (USJ) and at Holy Spirit University in Kaslik (USEK) and the Sagesse University.
Patriarch Rai founded Notre Dame University in Louaizé and was its president from1978
-1984. From 1982 to 1986 he presided over the Court of Appeal of the Maronite Tribunal.

The Term Patriarch, in the Old Testament,  refers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, since they were the fathers of the Jewish people.

When we are speaking about Christian times, patriarch refers to a prelate who holds precedence over primates, metropolitans, and bishops. In order of dignity. There are the patriarchs of Rome who is The Pope, Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.
Catholic Eastern Churches, with particular Jurisdiction also known as “SUI JURIS” are shepherded by their correspondent Patriarchs, or Metropolitan.
There are patriarchs of the Armenian, Maronite, Melkite, and Chaldean rites (all Catholics), and there are "minor" patriarchs in Venice, Lisbon, and in the West and East Indies.

The pope as Patriarch of the West (this is the commonest form; "Patriarch of Rome", or "Latin Patriarch" also occur) rules all Western Europe from Poland to Illyricum (the Balkan Peninsula), Africa west of Egypt, all other lands (America, Australia) colonized from these lands and all Western (Latin) missionaries and dwellers in the East. In other words, his patriarchal jurisdiction extends over all who use the Western (Roman, Ambrosian, Mozarabic) rites and over the Byzantine Uniats in Italy, Corsica, and Sicily. As patriarch he may hold patriarchal synods and he frequently makes laws (such as ritual laws and our form of clerical celibacy) for the Western patriarchate alone.

The reigning Patriarch of our Maronite Church is His Beatitude Mar Bechara Peter Cardinal Rai. Born on February 25 1940, in Himlaya, Lebanon. He is the 77th Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Maronite Church, a position he has held since March 15, 2011, succeeding His Beatitude Mar Nasrallah Peter Cardinal Sfeir, at age 71, after getting more than two-thirds of the votes of the 39 bishops
The new patriarch formally requested and received ecclesiastical communion from Pope Benedict XVI
on March 24, 2011 pursuant to Canon 76 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

On 2 December 2014, Cardinal Bertone turned 80 and ceased to be eligible to participate in future conclaves. He was also the last of the current suburbicarian cardinal-bishops to maintain voting rights in a conclave; as a result, the only cardinal-electors from the order of cardinal-bishops eligible to participate in any future conclave were the Eastern Catholic Patriarch Cardinals Antonios Naguib and Bechara Peter Rai. Cardinal Naguib himself turned 80 on March 18, 2015 leaving Cardinal Rai as the sole cardinal-elector from the order of cardinal-bishops. Cardinal Rai is visiting our parish on July 1st 2016.

Following the Arab Spring and at the height of the civil war in neighboring Syria, Patriarch al-Rahi had the joy of welcoming the Pope on his visit to Lebanon in September 2012 for the presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. On that occasion he described Beirut as "a city that witnessed to the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the Arab world"

Please reload