- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick returned to the District yesterday after a three-day trip to meet with religious and political leaders in Lebanon, where Israeli and Hezbollah forces are fighting.

“It is a very disturbing time in Lebanon,” said the cardinal, who in May retired as the Catholic archbishop of Washington. “The worst part is that more children than soldiers are killed. It just breaks your heart.”

Cardinal McCarrick, 76, met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and said both are “anxious to stop all the killing.”

After the meeting, he implored both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire so humanitarian workers could help the nearly 1 million people estimated to be homeless as a result of the conflict.

The United Nations later brokered a cease-fire that is supposed to take effect this morning.

Cardinal McCarrick welcomed the agreement, but he said he will be happier once the fighting stops.

“We have got to give people time to put their lives together,” he said. “I hope the governments don’t spend a lot of time discussing it, then keep fighting.”

Cardinal McCarrick said food and other aid is in Lebanon, but it cannot be delivered to civilians because of the fighting.

“That must change immediately to prevent the loss of even more lives,” the cardinal said earlier this week.

Cardinal McCarrick also expressed frustration at the inability of both sides to stop fighting long enough to help those caught in the middle.

“We need to protect Israel, but we need to help Lebanon, too,” he said.

The cardinal spent most of yesterday on an airplane — flying on a Jordanian air force plane from Beirut to Amman, Jordan, then to Paris. He arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport at about 5 p.m. looking slightly weary.

He said security at the airports was “very, very tight,” after the announcement last week of a terrorist plot to blow up commercial flights between Britain and the United States.

“They took my toothpaste and hair gel,” he said. “But that doesn’t matter because I don’t have much hair.”

Cardinal McCarrick went to Lebanon as a member of Catholic Relief Services, which plans to spend about $10 million in the Middle East, including the Gaza Strip, northern Israel and Lebanon.

The charity is working with the nonprofit group Caritas Lebanon to provide emergency assistance.

Charity officials said they will focus on giving food, medical care and other help to those without a home and to migrant workers trapped by the fighting.

Cardinal McCarrick said the charity has received little money from people in the United States, which he attributed to “philanthropic fatigue.”

“People asked me to please help, but I am not a general or a politician or a statesman,” he said. “I am a simple priest.”

Cardinal McCarrick has long been interested in international events.

He studied in Europe for a year before entering St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. He has traveled as a human rights advocate before to Lebanon and to places such as Central America, Cuba, Iran, Rwanda and Vietnam.

In January 2000, the president of Lebanon named Cardinal McCarrick an officer in the Order of Cedars of Lebanon.

In December of that year, President Clinton presented him with the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards. The cardinal He was installed in January 2001 as archbishop of Washington and was succeeded this year by Bishop Donald W. Wuerl.

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