Lebanon: Archbishop Haddad Laments the Exodus of Christians from Lebanon

Source: FSSPX News

Archbishop Elie Bechara Haddad

At the invitation of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Elie Bechara Haddad, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Sidon (Lebanon), from April 20 to 28 was passing through to Ticino and French-speaking Switzerland. Since the Hamas attack of October 7, tens of thousands of villagers have had to abandon the border areas of southern Lebanon, which is bombed almost daily by the Israeli army.

Archbishop Haddad, aged 64, condemned the scorched-earth policy which is adding to the severe economic crisis which has lasted since October 2019 and is provoking mass emigration. It affects the Christian minority proportionately more.

To the south, in the city of Tyre, where a large Christian community lives, life remains relatively normal. But the continuously bombed villages were deserted, the populations having gone further north, especially to Beirut.

“A number of these refugees are farmers: their houses have often been destroyed, their orchards and their crops burned by white phosphorous bombs illegally dropped by Israel. The olive trees withered, they died, the fields are poisoned. These people do not know what will become of them!”, he explained.

In certain localities, entire families have left, only leaving a single person behind to look after the belongings and protect them against theft.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the eviction of Hezbollah from southern Lebanon was a national objective, but “he, however, knows very well that Lebanon cannot do anything against Hezbollah, which acts autonomously. This is not the first time that all of Lebanon has paid for this reason!”, Archbishop Haddad continued.

Today, the vast majority of Lebanese do not live, they survive, and in particular thanks to external aid: very poor families are more and more numerous and do not always have enough to eat. The Melkite diocese of Sidon and Deir el Qamar, of Archbishop Elie Bechara Haddad since 2007, which once numbered 80,000 souls, is today reduced to 40,000.

The Christian villages located east of Sidon had been destroyed from 1982 to 1985 by Druze combatants and Sunni militias confronting the Lebanese Forces. That war broke out on September 3, 1983, after the Israeli army’s withdrawal. In certain villages, the confrontations had begun as early as the Israeli invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982.

“Our diocese, which had since been rebuilt, is once again very affected,” the Archbishop of Sidon explains. The danger comes from the destabilization of the country which pushes the Lebanese to emigrate to Canada, the United States, and Australia, but also to France, Belgium, and Switzerland. Christian now make up only a third of the Lebanese population, and a further decrease is anticipated.

“It is the young who are leaving, but also entire families. Fortunately, we receive outside help for our schools, hospitals, clinics... The diaspora helps us, but also organizations like Aid to the Church in Need, l’Œuvre d’Orient. This stabilizes the situation, but does not solve the problem, because Lebanon is subject to external interference which does not allow it to direct its own destiny.”

While many Christian families have fled to more secure areas, priests and religious are still there to accompany those who have remained behind to take care of their houses, or who are too old or too frail to be moved. ACN is providing its support in this emergency situation, by supplying food packages and medical assistance, and by allowing the Christian students of the region to access online education.


Archbishop Elie Bechara Haddad was born on January 28, 1960, in Ablah, in the Beqaa Valley. At a very young age, he entered the monastery of the Holy Savior, of the Basilian Order of the Most Holy Savior, in Joun, close to Sidon. He was ordained a priest on August 9, 1986, after having completed his philosophical and theological studies at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (1980-1983) and at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome (1983-1985).

He holds a doctorate in canon and civil law, obtained from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in 1994. Elected by the Holy Synod of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church on October 11, 2006, Archbishop Elie Bechara Haddad was ordained Archbishop of Sidon and Deir el Qamar on March 24, 2007, by Patriarch Gregory III Laham, assisted by Archbishop Georges Kwaiter and Metropolitan Joseph Kallas.