In Rome, Sfeir Denies Political Reasons behind Resignation

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Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Wednesday denied media reports that he has submitted his resignation to the Holy See for "political reasons."

In an interview with OTV in the Vatican on the sidelines of a ceremony to unveil the statue of Saint Maroun, Sfeir said: "They're free to say what they want, but the real reason is that I have reached the age of 90."

The patriarch noted that "the biggest threat facing the Lebanese is their split." He added, however, that the Lebanese situation "is still better than the situation in neighboring countries."

Asked whether he had concerns over a possible plan to naturalize Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Sfeir said "some people in Lebanon might employ the naturalization (of Palestinian refugees) to achieve certain goals."

"There are no contacts with Hizbullah anymore," the patriarch answered to a question, noting that "the Shiite sect constitutes a part of the Lebanese and we yearn to see everyone agreeing on an independent Lebanon."

Addressing the Lebanese, Sfeir thanked those who aided him in his "tough mission."

"I ask God to guide the Lebanese and help them in their country and in the Diaspora," the patriarch added.

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