Tuesday, 7 Feb 2023

Foucher awards Matar National Order of the Legion of Honor: A fierce defender of Francophonie

French President Emmanuel Macron awarded Archbishop of Beirut, Boulos Matar, the French National Order of the Legion of Honor in the rank of Commander, in recognition of his contributions to Lebanese-French relations.

The French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, handed this order over to the Archbishop during a ceremony held at the Maronite Diocese in Achrafieh, in the presence of Caretaker Minister Cesar Abi Khalil, representing President Michel Aoun, MP Ibrahim Azar, representing Speaker Nabih Berri, and Caretaker Minister Ghattas Khoury, representing PM-designate Saad Hariri.

Ahead of granting Bishop Matar the said decoration on behalf of President Macron, Ambassador Foucher delivered a statement in which he reminded that fourteen years ago, Ambassador Lecourtier, had granted Matar the Order of Honor in the rank of knight. "Today, France wishes to honor you once again for your extraordinary role at the service of your church, your country, its people and the Francophonie," he said, underlining the deep-rooted trust between France and the Maronite Church, and underscoring Matar's commitment to dialogue.

"You have enthusiastically defended the 'Lebanese feature' of peaceful coexistence, which is the wealth of this country," he told Matar, reminding how the latter was "chosen to carry the banner and the Lebanese model at the Islamic-Christian dialogue sessions launched by the President of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb."

"This dialogue is necessary as sectarianism and intolerance are becoming more and more spread in the region," Foucher went on to say, noting that "Christians of the East are a key element in the region, without which part of its identity would disappear. France is convinced with this idea and will remain committed to defending it. This was a message recently reiterated by President Emmanuel Macron during Patriarch Rahi's visit to Paris."

"The promotion of the Francophonie is one of our President's priorities, and he is set to visit Beirut to sign an ambitious road map in that regard," he added.

"Your role in spreading the French language in Lebanon makes you a true partner of France. As a man of dialogue and culture, you represent diversity, which is the wealth of this country," the ambassador concluded.

Bishop Matar, in turn, gave a speech that expressed utter appreciation for the "respect bestowed upon him by the French State for the third time in a row."

He thanked President Macron for granting him this honor and for congratulating him personally "during his visit to the Elysee, two weeks ago, within the framework of the official visit by His Beatitude, Patriarch Bechara Rahi."

"This is not a personal reward, no matter my services. It falls within scope of historical relations between France and Lebanon," Matar said, adding that "serving our homeland is an obligation to us all."

Archbishop Matar expressed his appreciation to the French President, stressing that the Christians of the East and its Muslims have to overcome the differences and create a peaceful and beneficial rapprochement.

"Neither the Christians nor the Muslims can make a destiny independent of each other. The time of isolation is far gone," Matar affirmed.

"Pluralism and unity in French society are met by pluralism and unity in the Arab world, which is a level of thinking that requires firm and sincere action and determination," he said.

Source: National News Agency

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