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Biographical notes

[Updated: 26.02.20112


Notice: the biographical notes are only a working instrument for the press.


SFEIR Card. Nasrallah Pierre

© Gregorz Galazka


Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch emeritus of Antioch for Maronites (Lebanon), was born on 15 May 1920 in Reyfoun in the Maronite Diocese of Sarba, Lebanon.

He was educated at the school in Mar-Abda Harharaya from 1933 to 1936.

He attended the Saint-Maron Seminary in Gahzir, Lebanon (1937-1939) for his secondary studies, and then the Major Seminary at St Joseph's University in Beirut (1940-1943).

He studied philosophy and theology at the theological faculty of St Joseph's University from 1944 to 1950.

He was ordained a priest on 7 May 1950, and appointed curate of the parish of Reyfoun and secretary of the Diocese of Damas, an office he held from 1950 to 1956. Also, from 1956 to 1961, he was secretary to the Maronite Patriarchate.

From 1951 to 1961 he taught literature and Arabic philosophy and translation at the College of the Marist Fathers in Jounieh.

Elected to the titular Church of Tarsus for Maronites, he was named Patriarchal Vicar General on 19 June 1961 and confirmed on 23 June. He was ordained Bishop on the following 16 July.

Appointed Patriarchal Administrator to Antoine Pierre Khoraiche, then Archbishop of Saida (1974-1975), he was subsequently named councillor of the Commission for the Revision of Canon Law in 1980.

In 1977 he was made representative of the president of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon for Caritas-Lebanon, and in 1980 he was appointed spiritual advisor to the Order of Malta.

He was elected Patriarch on 19 April 1986 and took possession on 27 April 1986.

He has taken part in three General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops between 1986 and 1994.

He was a President Delegate ad honorem of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops (10-24 October 2010), "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. ‘Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul’ (Acts 4:32)".

He served as president of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Orient, and head of the Synod of the Maronite Church.

His works include Des sources de l'Evangile,1975; Des visages qui ne sont plus, vol. I, 1983; vol. II, 1984; Sunday Homilies, translated into various languages.

Patriarch emeritus of Antioch for Maronites, 26 February 2011.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 26 November 1994.


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