The Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara el Rai has decided to visit Jerusalem as part of a papal delegation in May. According to Al-Akhbar, he will be the first Lebanese Patriarch to ever visit the Holy Land. Former Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir had refused to accompany Pope John Paul II on his journey to the Holy Land because “there is a domestic situation that we must take into account. We have bishops that travel between Lebanon and Palestine, but taking into consideration the domestic situation, we preferred not to do it.”
I am not sure if the Patriarch needs any special permit to visit the Holy Land specially that the Maronite Church has a bishop there, so I guess we will have to wait and see how this goes. In all cases, I think it’s a bold move and I hope it works out.