Claire Shukr wrote about the attempts to push for a resolution to the presidential election blockage within the Maronite community. Bishop Antoine Bou Negm was enthusiastic about the proposal to consult with Maronite leaders, despite not being the one who came up with the idea. The attempts to find a candidate agreed upon by all parties were futile, and Bishop Bou Najm eventually informed Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai of the unsuccessful outcome. Although some had suggested focusing on proposals or cooperation mechanisms instead of candidate lists, the patriarch ultimately closed the door on political consultations and invited the community to a spiritual retreat for prayer and meditation. The Maronites believe that the solution to the vacancy lies in Parliament.
Claire Shukr wrote in “The Call of the Nation”: Participants say that the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai was not primarily the one who had the idea to push the shepherd of the Diocese of Antelias, Bishop Antoine Bou Negm, to knock on the doors of the Maronite leaders, but the latter was the one who was enthusiastic about the consultative proposal, and it is inevitable by nature. The situation is in light of the sterile blockage facing the presidential election, but he asked for the blessing of the shepherd, so he had to try his luck. The convoys add that Bishop Bou Najm did not test well the sophistication and cunning of those leaders and their ability to circumvent any attempt to corner them in seeking understanding among themselves. Her differences had previously “baked” the Church more than once. There is therefore nothing wrong with trying again. And that’s what happened.
The bishop’s ups and downs between Maarab, Benshaei, Mirna Chalouhi, Saifi, and the House of Representatives ended up with a long and broad list that needed a divine miracle to “commit” it to one or two names that the Maronites could bring to the legislative session. The irony, and not limited to, is that the package of names that Bou Negm presented to both the head of the “Free Patriotic Movement” Gebran Bassil and the head of the “Forces” party, Samir Geagea, did not escape any common name from it, meaning that the outcome of the consultations between the two men, through Bou Negm You did not come up with a single candidate capable of being a line of meeting between them… So the first agreed to a group and the second gave his approval to a second group. And so on. Last Saturday, Bishop Bou Najm visited Patriarch Al-Rahi to inform him of the outcome of his endless shuttle tour, as desired by the ships of the Archdiocese of Antilias. It is likely that the Maronite Patriarch was not surprised by what the “patriarchal visitor” faced, especially since the shepherd is fully aware of the true positions of the Christian leaders and even the independent deputies or those declared or implied candidates.
Therefore, the patriarch decided to close the door to political consultations, although some of the convoys had previously asked Bishop Bou Najm to neglect the issue of names and lists, to focus on proposals or the mechanism of cooperation between the “senior Maronites”, in order to be a gateway to understanding. However, it seems that the shepherd is fed up. Fed up with the differences between his parishioners, which prevent even agreeing on a unified mechanism for how to jointly approach the presidential election, he invited them to a spiritual retreat for prayer and meditation, as if by that he had left the ship of merit to divine intervention, after he raised his hands in surrender… at least in terms of negotiation and consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The Maronites, while they refuse to hold the Christians responsible for the vacancy as a result of their vertical division, and consider that the wood of salvation lies in Parliament and not outside it.
In conclusion, the search for a consensus candidate for the Lebanese presidential election continues to be a challenging task for the Maronite leaders. Despite the efforts of Bishop Antoine Bou Negm, who tried to bring the different factions together, the consultations did not yield any common name. The Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai, as expected, closed the door to political consultations, opting for prayer and meditation instead. The Maronites are now hoping for divine intervention to resolve their differences and elect a president who can lead the nation towards stability and prosperity.