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Sunday, December 4, 2016
Caritas president dies
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 The President of Caritas Internationalis, Archbishop Fouad El-Hage, died yesterday after a lengthy illness. He was 65. Speaking from his office in Vatican City, the Secretary General of Caritas, Duncan MacLaren, said: "Archbishop Fouad was not only the President of our Confederation but a friend. In his many years in Caritas at the national, regional and global levels he led this organization with wisdom, insight and a great sense of humour. He was part of the strategic planning process that changed the Confederation utterly and led to work in peace-building, advocacy, humanitarian standards and the coordination of all 162 members during major emergencies. In Lebanon, he was known as the 'bishop of the poor' and was popular among Moslems as well as the Christian community. He faced his final struggle with his illness with great fortitude and dignity. He has now returned to the Father and is at peace. I personally, the staff at the General Secretariat and everyone in the Confederation whom he touched by his friendliness and simplicity will miss him greatly. May he rest in God's eternal peace." The first Vice-President of CI, Denis Viénot, said: "I have lost a dear friend who often advised and guided me, both at his initiative and mine. Together ­ he at Caritas Lebanon and I at Secours Catholique ­ we cooperated with many Caritas, in Europe and the United States, on helping Caritas Lebanon to become an organisation engaged in development and promotion after so many years of war and emergency actions. He supported Caritas Europa by insisting on the global dimension; through his active and participatory presence at regional conferences, such as the one in Sesimbra in Portugal in 2002; and in visits with us, such as those to Ukraine, to build the work of Caritas. He brought a universal touch to Confederation work and meetings, and was always attentive, enthusiastic and vigilant during dialogue, which he liked to be genuine." Archbishop Fouad El-Hage was elected President of Caritas Internationalis at the 1999 General Assembly held in the Vatican City. Born in Zahlé, Lebanon, in 1939, he studied in Rome, the USA and Beirut and was ordained priest in 1968. He became the Maronite Archbishop of Tripoli in Northern Lebanon in June 1998. He has served as President of Caritas Lebanon and President of Caritas MONA (Middle East/North Africa). He was also one of the architects of the Caritas Internationalis Strategic Plan. He spent much time travelling on behalf of the Confederation and was greatly admired not only as a humanitarian but as a colleague and deeply spiritual leader.
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