Choose a country
|Christian Population||1.9 million|
Christians and the Struggle for Religious Freedom
A vital booklet about religious freedom to inform, inspire and challenge you. Includes an explanation of what religious freedom means and examples of the challenges Christians face in our Persecuted and Forgotten? 2012 update.Get the book or download your copy
Latest news from Lebanon
- UNITED KINGDOM: Middle East Peace depends on Christian presence, says Lebanese priest
- MIDDLE EAST/IRAQ: Holy Father, help save our Church from dying out, says bishop
- LEBANON: Pope to hand out youth catechisms during visit
- SYRIA/LEBANON: Syria's war could engulf Lebanon, says patriarch
- UNITED KINGDOM: 'Is Arab Spring turning to Winter?' asks charity head
Lebanon - Country profile
As Christians emigrate from an increasingly Islamicised Lebanon, the outlook for the Church is uncertain in a country with a uniquely strong and rich Christian culture.
In 2009 Fr Samir Khalil SJ, founder of the Centre for Arab Christian Research and Documentation, reported that Christians had fallen to well below 50 percent of the population as the faithful leave for countries with larger Christian populations. (Source: Lebanon Daily Star, 28/09/09)
Violence is also a problem – shortly before Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir’s visit to the Beqaa Valley to consecrate a new church in June 2010, a bomb exploded killing one person and injuring two others. According to some sources, the prelate was the intended victim.
While religion continues to be a sensitive issue, the state has taken steps to ease tensions. In 2009 Interior Minister Ziad Baroud announced that citizens would no longer have religion included in their Vital Statistics files.
Despite religious difficulties, article 9 of the Constitution establishes the state’s respect for all religions and guarantees them autonomy for issues such as marriage and the family. Lebanon remains a leader in the Middle East with regard to respect for religious freedom. Faith groups are able to organise their own schools, associations and courts.
Listen to a talk about Lebanon by Aid to the Church in Need's Neville Kyrke-Smith
Religious communities are also represented in parliament according to fixed quotas while the president of the republic must be a Maronite Catholic, the president of the Council of Ministers a Sunni Muslim and the parliamentary Speaker a Shiite Muslim.
However there are moves towards secularisation, which many Christians fear would allow the Muslim majority to dominate the main institutions of the state and of the administration.
At the start of 2011 there were up to 50,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, many of them Christians, but they have been refused temporary legal status. Many may be returned home against their wishes if the authorities apply stricter policies towards them. (Source: 2010 UNHCR country operations profile for Lebanon)
Construction of a church in Jdeideh-Fakiha
Jdeideh-Fakiha is a very poor village and few of its 5,000 inhabitants have had any formal education. Around 70 % of the population are Christians. Thanks to you, building work can now be completed on the parish church of St Anthony. Beyond its core use of the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments, the new church will help to cement the Christian identity of the population and to act as a centre for major communal events. Make Donation
A multipurpose community centre for Asnoun-Zghorta
Asnoun in northwest Lebanon is a Maronite Catholic village of around 400 inhabitants who live a very modest existence. The Maronite Catholic Church wants to be able to provide good care for them by building a multipurpose parish centre. Two generous private donations mean the structure of the building is now finished. And thanks to you, they will now be able complete the interior, together with all the doors and windows. Make Donation
Help for Iraqi refugees in Lebanon
Iraqi Christians refugees in Lebanon often have to endure years of living on the margins. Sister Hanan Youssef of the Good Shepherd Sisters runs a small clinic in a quiet suburb of Beirut. The sisters work round-the-clock, providing food, baby milk, inoculations and other medicines. "They are in extreme need!" says Sister Hanan regarding the plight of the refugees. None of the Sisters’ work would be possible without your generosity. Make Donation
Catholic counselling centre for couples and families
The Marian movement ‘La Libanaise – Femme du 31 mai’ (The Lebanese Woman – Woman of 31 May) helps those undergoing marriage difficulties. They are seeking to establish a new counselling centre in Daraoun, by refurbishing an old monastery. Cardinal Robert Sarah, writes, "In view of the visit to Lebanon by the Holy Father and as a sign of his care and respect for the Lebanese people, who have suffered for so many years from war, … we would be grateful for the support of ACN for this project." Make Donation
Air conditioning for St Anthony’s in Mastita
The parish of St Anthony in Mastita sits right on the Mediterranean coast. Since 2007 the parishioners have been able to benefit from a church of their very own; which is in fact a simple multipurpose building. Thanks to your kindness, they will now benefit from a new generator and an air-conditioning system; meaning that mass-goers will no longer have to endure the bitter cold in winter and the extremes of heat in summer. Make Donation
A parish hall for Maronite Catholics in Southern Lebanon
The Maronite archieparchy of Tyre is one of the southernmost in Lebanon. The Maronite Catholics are of Syriac origin and among the most ancient religious communities in Lebanon. Your generosity has enabled them to build a new parish hall such that they are able not only to meet together for the celebration of the Liturgy but also to have a place for other communal activities. It is used above all by children and young people. Make Donation
Examples of Persecution
February 2010: Pope Benedict XVI told Lebanese Prime Minister that Lebanon was a model of coexistence and, echoing the words of Pope John Paul II, said it was a “message” for the entire Middle East. (Source: Asia News)
March 2010: Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir met the Pope and participated in the preparatory work of the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East. He spoke of the need for coordination “among all the living forces of Lebanon” including the army and Hezbollah. (Source: Asia News)
March 2010: For the first time, Lebanese Christians and Muslims celebrated the Christian feast of the Annunciation as a national bank holiday. The Council of Maronite Bishops said the celebration “is a unique event which deserves praise”. (Source: Asia News)
June 2010: One person was killed and two others were injured in a night-time bomb blast in the predominantly Christian town of Zahle. The blast occurred several hours before a visit by Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir to the town. (Source: BosNews, 25th June 2010)
June 2010: Islamist leaflets threatening Christians were widely distributed in the coastal town of Sidon. The leaflets said Christians should “spare their lives by evacuating the area within one week” or “bear the consequences”. Soldiers were dispatched as the deadline for Christians to leave approached. Two suspects were arrested. (Source: Ibid)
July 2010: The secretary general of Sunni political party, urged Muslims in Lebanon to “nurture the Christian presence” in the region, saying it was an “Arab and Islamic responsibility as much as it is a Christian one”. (Source: Christian Today, 29th July 2010)
Last updated: 24/10/2011