Daily Star, Lebanon’s influential Maronite Patriarch advised President Emile Lahoud to restore the presidential position to its former significance saying that "history will record the stand that you, the president, will take for the sake of the nation." During Christmas Mass at Bkirki Sunday, attended by the president in the front row, the prelate indirectly suggested that Lahoud should reconsider whether remaining in office would serve the interest of the country and the reverence of the presidential post.

For the first time, Sfeir – who unofficially has the last word on who becomes the next president – publicly implied that he backed Lahoud’s early departure from office. "It is your responsibility, your Excellency, as the head of state, to lead Lebanon and the Lebanese to safety and preserve the Constitution and national unity. "If the president is not up to the task, then it is up to him to judge whether remaining in his post or resigning would honor this position or dishonor it."

He implored Lahoud "to avoid self interest and take a decision that is in the interest of the nation."

Sfeir said: "Lebanon, in the past year has witnessed 15 explosions, of which several were horrible assassinations."

"We can only pray to God to inspire you to do what will preserve the honor of the president and the post and what will reassure the Lebanese," he said.

The mass was preceded by an hour-long meeting between the prelate and the president, after which Lahoud merely said: "The meeting was, as usual, positive and very good."

The meeting follows a series of conclaves between the major political players, as they attempt to kick off a national dialogue to lift the country from its current crisis.

MP Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, headed by Minister Ahmad Fatfat has, over the past few days, visited the main political blocs in Parliament to try to maintain the national dialogue started by Speaker Nabih Berri.

The bloc visited the prelate Friday, as well as the head of the Lebanese Forces’ executive committee Samir Geagea, Berri and former President Amin Gemayel. On Saturday, the bloc visited former Army General and MP Michel Aoun, who has placed himself in opposition to the government.