U.S. Department of State Pays Tribute to Cardinal Sfeir

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The U.S. Department of State paid condolences on Thursday for the passing of former Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir who will be laid to rest today.

“Patriarch Sfeir was a brave leader against tyranny and oppression. He spearheaded the notion of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,” the DoS said in a statement.

Sfeir, who was set to turn 99 on Wednesday, will be laid to rest today.

He died on Sunday after days of intensive medical care.

Sfeir wielded considerable political influence during the country's civil war and was an ardent advocate of a Syrian troop withdrawal.

He became the leader of the church in 1986 until he resigned in 2011 due to his declining health, and held the title "76th Patriarch of Antioch and the Whole Levant".

He was a respected power broker during the 1975-1990 civil war, which saw bitter infighting between rival militias including opposing Christian factions.

Sfeir, who spoke fluent Arabic and French, was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

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