Cardinal Sfeir's Speech

Your Excellency, Dr Jean Daniel, Ambassador of Lebanon in Australia and Mrs Daniel. Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of Sydney Dear Bishops Mrs Ghada Naoum, representing the Consul General of Lebanon in Sydney Mrs Fadia Ghossayn, President of the Australian Lebanese Foundation Distinguished guests,

It is with pleasure that we convey our appreciation for your kind invitation to this lunch. On behalf of our delegate and our brother bishop Ad Abi Karam, we express our sincere gratitude to The University of Sydney, administration, lecturers and staff.

We are aware that just as Australia has become the new home for many of our Lebanese brothers and sisters, your university educates many young students of Lebanese background. We acknowledge that the University makes a concerted effort to ensure that the education for these young people is based on ethical principles of life. It is the instilling of these principles that will help our young minds to become responsible and active citizens of the Australian society and the world; people who worship God and cooperate with their fellow citizens in achieving the common good. Your invaluable contribution in looking after the education of young people is very much appreciated.

The progress of a nation depends on the ability to educate its people with the skills and knowledge needed to satisfy the needs of the country. Failure to do this would be detrimental to the society as it would fall behind the scientific and technological progress made through the acquisition of new knowledge. It must be said that this preparation of young people must necessarily include spiritual and religious values if they are to become integral human beings.

It is well recognized that this university does a great job at educating young people academically. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge is wonderful and necessary. There is an old Arabic saying “seek knowledge even in China”. At the time of this saying China was almost inaccessible from Lebanon. The idea with this is that people need to seek knowledge anywhere in the world, regardless of the hardship. This is particularly important in our time given that access to education and knowledge has become much more readily available to most people. However, any knowledge that lacks values and faith in God does not lead to happiness. Educational institutions should remember that they must educate the whole person, body, mind and soul.

Let us not keep you for much longer. We would like to finish by expressing our appreciation one more time, for all the hard work and the effort that you as a leader of this university put into the preparation of new graduates. As they leave this institution, they go into the world ready to serve society as active and well prepared citizens. The quality of the holistic education with which you provide them here should turn them into responsible human beings, aware of their duties towards themselves, their country and their fellow citizens. New graduates of this institution will continue the work done by previous generations. It is that hard work what has turned this country Australia into one of the most prosperous countries of the world.

We thank the Australian Lebanese Foundation for their kind invitation and we pray that God may bless them and this university. We pray that God may protect you and preserve you as you continue the work in the service of education and the preparation of Australians of all backgrounds. We are confident that with your work the future of this country can continue its successful path.

May God bless and protect Australia and Lebanon.
Thank you very much.