Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon in Los Angeles, who is originally from Lebanon, spoke with CNA upon his election about the Church’s position in the midst of political and economic crisis in his own country.
“The Lebanese people are suffering,” stated Zaidan, whose term will go from November 2023 through November 2026.
Considering the war in Ukraine and other fronts, Lebanon is not a top priority for many nations.
The committee’s purpose is to advise the bishops of the United States on foreign matters. By a vote of 148 to 95, Zaidan, a former committee member, was selected as chair over Philadelphia’s Archbishop Nelson Pérez. In Rockford, Illinois, he replaces Bishop David J. Malloy.
Zaidan enumerated a multitude of issues producing instability in the country, such as the seeming inability to elect a new president, the depreciated and inflated currency, and high unemployment rates.
“Additionally, everything is growing more expensive, unemployment is very high in Lebanon due to instability and corruption, and you lack the fundamental infrastructure, such as electricity, so others must do it on their own,” he explained.
In addition, the cost of everything is rising. Lebanese unemployment is extremely high as a result of insecurity and corruption, he added, adding that a lack of infrastructure for electricity and other requirements forces people to fend for themselves.
Zaidan stated that if Lebanese citizens have family outside the nation who can support them financially in tiny ways, “a hundred dollars can make a huge difference for them.”
Nevertheless, he added, “if they don’t have anyone, it’s quite difficult, and that’s why many want to go.”
Despite the many unpleasant situations that plague the Lebanese people, Zaidan stated that the Church in Lebanon is doing everything possible to be near the suffering. He lauded the efforts of Caritas Internationalis, the church’s humanitarian arm, to keep people alive with its resources.
“Because he is familiar with his people, the priest is often the first person you consult. “He is aware of those who are destitute and have no one to assist them,” he stated.
Zaidan stated that many priests are calling their bishops and taking the initiative to aid their congregation.
He stated that he wished to send a message of appreciation to the parish priest in Lebanon in order to “commend him for standing with his people and being a part of that and serving them despite all the difficulties he was experiencing himself, and for staying there and doing his best for his people.”
Additionally, Zaidan urged “everyone present and outside to keep Lebanon foremost in mind.” Remember our brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers, and anything you might spare here could make a significant difference in Lebanon,” he concluded.
According to Zaidan, Christ is closest to suffering and needy individuals.
Christ informed us, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you’ve done to me.” He stated, “We need to know that whoever is in need, whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you’ve done to me.” According to Zaidan, there are several uplifting tales of people who are in need and who help someone who is in a worse circumstance than themselves.
He said, “It’s incredible.”
Zaidan stated that the Lebanese Maronites contributed significantly to Lebanon’s greatness. He stated that Maronite Patriarch Elias Hoyaek de Helta, who presided from 1898 to 1931, “was crucial in making Lebanon great within its own borders as it is today.”
Zaidan stated that it is crucial for Lebanon to serve as a “beacon of hope” and “shelter” for Christians in the Middle East.
“According to John Paul II, Lebanon is a message between the East and the West, between Christians and Muslims, and also within the Christian community, between Catholics and Orthodox Christians.
From this perspective, the mission is unique, he stated.
Zaidan stated that a large number of Lebanese had migrated to the United States during the previous century.
“We always think of Lebanon as the mother church and the branches that are dispersed around the world and present in different regions of the globe,” he remarked.
“We hope to produce fruit and allow the mother church to partake in some of those fruits,” Zaidan said.