DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     November 12-14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 215


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

122.   Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir

        The Church's only Maronite cardinal is Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Lebanon. He was born in the Maronite Eparchy of Sarba in Lebanon on May 15, 1920 and brought up a strict Maronite by devoted parents which sowed the seeds of a vocation to the priesthood. He was ordained on May 7, 1950 and, after six years of pastoral work and teaching Arabic Literature and Philosophy at the Marist Fathers College in Jounieh, he was appointed secretary of the Marionite Patriarchate in Beirut in 1956 where he was able to tend to those duties as well as teach at the College until 1961. It was then, on July 16, 1961 that he was elected Bishop of Tarsus for the Maronites.

        In 1977 he was appointed a representative of the Assembly of the Patriarchs and the Catholic Bishops for Caritas-Lebanon and three years later the Spiritual Counselor of the Order of Malta. Throughout his episcopal life he has worked tirelessly to promote multireligious dialogue with other faiths in Lebanon including Jewish and Moslim religious leaders. On April 19, 1986 he was promoted to Patriarch of Antioch for the Maronites and less than a month later granted ecclesial communion with the Holy See by Pope John Paul II who made him a cardinal bishop during his Consistory of November 26, 1994. As President of the Assembly of the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon he has made great strides in safeguarding the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Holy Land's largest Maronite community while at the same time mediating as a peacemaker in a country that has been one of the most conflict-ridden theatres in the world over the decades. These attributes have made him a valuable asset to the Church. At the time of his entrance into the College of Cardinals he was assigned membership in the curial offices of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care to Health Care Workers as well as the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Liturgical Texts. At 79, he resides in Bkerke, Lebanon at the Patriarcat Maronite house there.

November 12-14, 1999       volume 10, no. 215


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