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An Interview of Georges Corm (a) on the occasion of the publication of his book « Youakim Moubarac, Un Homme d'Exception » - 29 October 2004 -  by Fady Noun - Translated by Youssef

Pour le texte original en français,  :      Version Française
The book, Youakim Moubarac, a man of exception, texts chosen and introduced by George Corm, in Editions Librairie Orientale, is one of these books of which we wonder, once we have them in our hands, how they could not exist. Voluminous, the book establishes itself straightaway as a reference work on Father Youakim Moubarac (1924-1995), a man having his place in the pantheon of Lebanese Glory, as such as Khalil Gibran, Amine Rihani, Hassan Saab or Michel Chiha. Here is surely a work that does credit to the Lebanese Publishing Industry.

« Youakim Moubarac is irrefutably the most engaging and the most remarkable of the Lebanese cultural personalities of the XXth century , by the span of his thoughtful and controlled knowledge which he puts at the service of the integration of his country and of the Arab region, to which belongs Lebanon, into a clever, opened modernity , cleared out from their numerous oriental and western fanaticisms », writes George Corm in his introduction.

From Kfarsghab (North-Lebanon), ordained priest in 1947, Father Moubarac spent a large part of his life in France, where he had obtained from his superiors to continue his studies. It is there that he matured his vision of Islam particularly alongside Louis Massignon, whose secretary he became between 1950 and 1962, the year of the death of the great theologian . He taught in France, in particular in the Catholic Institute of Paris and in the Catholic University of Louvain. In Lebanon, he lectured occasionally in the University of Balamand. Between 1963 and 1965, he accompanied the Maronite Patriarch during the sessions of the Council Vatican II, before dedicating himself to his work.

This one, specifies George Corm, reflects three major aspects of his personality and of his tireless activities: the enlightened historian of the Churches of the East, particularly of the Maronite Church, the enlightened promoter of the islamo-christian dialogue and finally the ardent defender of both the Palestinian and the Lebanese causes facing Israel, of course, but also « facing the blindness of Europe and the prejudice of the United States ». On several occasions, Youakim Moubarac will be entrusted missions of religious, cultural or political nature.

Youakim Moubarac will play a key role in the convening and the organization of the Council of the Maronite Church, term which seems more precise than that of " patriarchal synod ". The Patriarch asked him to come back to Lebanon to help preparing this assembly. Between 1985 and 1990, he established the main texts of reflection, with rapporteurs chosen by him. Nevertheless, the decision of John-Paul II to dedicate a special assembly of the bishops' synod to Lebanon compromised a plan where he had invested all his energy and all his hope. Moubarac was to die in 1995, the year of the convening of the synod on Lebanon in Rome. But numerous documents which have just been read by the Patriarchal Maronite Synod always carry his mark. The published work consists of an extract from a long introduction which he had written when preparing for this Council.

Ignored or forgotten

Except some initiated, few Lebanese know the works of Youakim Moubarac. This man of exception has unfortunately sunk into oblivion today. Nevertheless, thanks to a circle of friends, in which we count George Corm, this is being repaired. Besides the selection of articles collected by Corm, a collective work must appear in Paris in the beginning of 2005, conducted by Jean Stassinet, introducing better his works.

George Corm met Father Youakim Moubarac in 1969, during a conference on the Christians and Palestine. He quickly discovered with him good rapports and natural affinities. His book, he says, is the fruit of this friendship, which felt a bit guilty not to have done enough. His ambition, he asserted, is « to re-install Youakim Moubarac as one of the greatest thinkers of the Maronity, the Libanity and the Arabity, and of the connections between these three realities ».

For George Corm, who will introduce his book today in Biel, with Mgr Mounir Khairallah and Pr Nassif Nassar, « all the work of historian of Youakim Moubarac consisted in making the Maronite community find its Antiochian, Oriental and Syriac roots ».

« Basically, added Corm, Father Youakim Moubarac thought that since the Lebanese Synod of Loueïzé (1736), the Maronite Church was too much taken in hand by the Jesuits and the Vatican. He aspired, surely in the strongest fidelity to Rome, to restore the autocephalia of the Maronite Church so that it can play its role of vector of modernity, without being subjected to a permanent "guidance " by Rome. In his mind, it was necessary that the Maronite Council preceded the meeting of the assembly of the synod, in Rome, so that this last meeting would carry all its fruits. And in a certain sense, he was right, because the final text handed in to the Pope, at the end of the synod, lacked coherence, energy. It was then saved by the splendid apostolic urging written by the Pope. »

« He struggled a lot during the war [Lebanese War - 1975-1990], recalled George Corm. His dream was to see France taking fact and cause for the Palestinians and for Lebanon, facing the United States wholly sided up with Israel. And France followed him for a short moment. The ambassador Louis Delamarre, assassinated in Beirut, worked a bit in this direction. Moubarac, in fact, worked to stop the bloodbath between the armed Palestinians and the so-called Christian parties. He thought that it was a battle of victims. He wrote a letter in this sense to Béchir Gemayel, after his election. »

Corm added that he did as best as he could in order to publish the chosen texts of Moubarac not too long after the convening of the Patriarchal Maronite Synod , in the hope that they will help in the perpetuation of the breath of the Holy-Spirit which enlivened its meetings. « I hope that many Lebanese will read Youakim Moubarac », he concluded his interview with us.

Source:  Interview by Fady Noun - Centre Catholique d'Information - October 29, 2004.

(1) It is impossible, in so limited a space, to make justice to such a bright erudite mind as Father Youakim Moubarac. For those who wish to better know him, you can participate in the conference that will be held today at 6 pm, hall Arthur Rimbaud, in the presence of George Corm. This latter will sign his book then in the stand of the Librairie Orientale.

Copyright © 2004 [ Centre Catholique d'Information / ] - All reproductions or adaptations of any extract of this information by any process, reserved to the authors for all countries.
  1. Georges Antoine Corm (1940 - ) Georges Corm is by profession an economist, specialized in the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean region. He is a well-known consultant to International Organization and central banks (for a more detailed biography, see

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