SIDON, Lebanon: Church bells rang across the southern coastal city of Sidon Tuesday morning as people gathered for Christmas Mass and heard sermons underscoring the importance of restoring faith between the state and the people.
In Sidon’s Church of St. Nicolas, Archbishop Elie Haddad, pastor of Sidon and Deir al-Qamar’s Roman Catholic Melkite Church, deplored that so many people in Lebanon are in need of basic goods and services such as water, electricity, bread, heating and education, warning that the situation was only getting worse.
“We have begged for a president and now we are begging for a government and for jobs,” he said, referring to the protracted presidential vacuum that ended with Michel Aoun’s election in 2016, and now the Cabinet formation deadlock that has persisted since May. “We’ve been eaten alive by corruption,” Haddad said.
In the city’s St. Elias Church, Bishop Maroun al-Ammar prayed for politicians and officials to cooperate with one another and to lead the country into prosperity.
“We ask the politicians to help the people so we can get over these difficult days,” Ammar said.
A government formation announcement was expected to come over the weekend as a “Christmas gift” to the Lebanese people, top politicians had said. However, the formation process was held up yet again, entering it eighth month of gridlock amid a last-minute hitch over the representation of six pro-Hezbollah Sunni MPs, as well as the reshuffling of ministerial portfolios.