Lebanese Catholic cardinal, at center of Muslim-Christian tensions, to visit Salt Lake City on Friday

(Courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City) Cardinal Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi

The 77-year-old Lebanese cleric is to meet with the Salt Lake Interfaith Council at 2:30 p.m. at the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City’s Pastoral Center, 27 C St.

Boutros al-Rahi was named patriarch of Antioch and head of the Maronite Catholics in March 2011. The following year, then-Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal.

A hallmark of Boutros al-Rahi’s ministry has been his commitment to enhancing relationships with Muslims aimed at building a cooperative, common future in his war-torn Middle Eastern nation.

In May 2014, he joined Pope Francis during the pontiff’s Holy Land pilgrimage, including a visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank. That, too, proved controversial for Boutros al-Rahi, since he was the first Lebanese religious leader to visit the modern state of Israel.

That long-running tradition, despite the current violence, “constitutes a sign of hope for a better future for the Middle East,” Boutros al-Rahi added.

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