Following are excerpts from an interview with former Lebanese minister Sleiman Faranjiya , which aired on NBN TV on January 17, 2008.
Sleiman Faranjiya: Any priest in a remote village would be dismissed, if his congregation stopped coming to his church. The Patriarch in Bkerki would dismiss him. Half of the congregation of Patriarch Sfeir fled the country. Half or three-quarters of his congregation is unhappy about the way he functions, but he remains in his position, and won't listen to anyone. Any bishop who reaches the age of 74 is offered to resign, and he should resign, because his decisions are no longer... It becomes difficult for him to make decisions. I talk to some bishops and clerics. Do you know what they say to me? They say: Be patient, he's 90 years old... I am not willing to entrust the fate of my [Maronite] sect, my future in this region, and the future of my children in this region in the hands of a 90-year-old man who forgets what you told him 10 minutes ago. Honestly, I don't want to hurt his feelings, but our future is at stake here. We are talking about the future of Christians, and about the future of the Maronites in the East. This man says one thing in the morning, and another in the afternoon, and if you tell him something, he forgets it an hour later. There are paid employees whose job it is to go to him on Saturday afternoon, and to go over the Sunday sermon, because it's too difficult for him to remember from Saturday to Sunday.
Faranjiya: The Patriarch's policy is no longer based on principles. His policy is inconsistent and changes every day. The American ambassador steers the Patriarch whichever way he wants. The Patriarch takes a position on something, and then the French or U.S. ambassador visits him, and the next day, his position has completely changed.
Faranjiya: A religious leader should be a symbol of love and honesty, but with all due respect, he cannot be a swindler.