Raï, Béchara Boutros
Order in College: Cardinal Bishop-Patriarch
With Title: Patriarch of Antiochia (Maronite), Lebanon
Native Country: Lebanon
Appointed by: Pope Benedict XVI on 24 November 2012
Ecclesiastical Office:  Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites, Lebanon 
Papal Elector: Eligible; Ineligible on 25 February 2020

Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï was born on 25 February 1940 at Himlaya in the Archeparchy of Antelias, (the same village in which Rafqa Arrayes, the first Maronite saint, was born). He studied at the Jesuits' Notre Dame de Jambour College. He made his perpetual profession in the Mariamite Maronite Order on 31 July 1962. He was then sent to Rome to study philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Lateran University where he earned a doctorate in canon law and a licence in sacred theology. He was ordained a priest on 3 September 1967. For several years he was in charge of the Mariamite scholasticate in Rome, while serving as director of the Arab Language programmes of Vatican Radio. He returned to Lebanon in 1975, at the beginning of the war, to direct the College of Notre Dame in Louayzé, a town in which he founded and supervised the Foreign Languages Institute. He then served as a judge on the Patriarchal Tribunal and as head of Santa Rita School in Dbayé. On 2 May 1986 the Maronite Synod elected him Patriarchal Vicar (equivalent to Auxiliary Bishop) and the Pope assigned him the titular episcopal see of Caesarea Philippi. He was ordained a bishop on 12 July 1986. On 9 June 1990, he was transferred to the new Eparchy of Jbeil (Byblos) for Maronites and, in 2003, was appointed Secretary of the Permanent Synod of the Maronite Church. In this capacity he took part in several Synods in Rome, including the Special Assembly for the Middle East in October 2010, at which he was elected to the Post-Synodal Council. In 2009, he became President of the Communications Commission of the Maronite Synod and promoted the television network TeleLumière-Noursat. On 15 March 2011 he was elected the 77th successor of St Maron at the Extraordinary Synod in Bkerké, north-east of Beirut. On 24 March that same year Benedict XVI granted him the Ecclesiastica Communio, which he had requested, complying with can. 76 § 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. This special bond with the Church of Rome was publicly confirmed the following 15 April — on the occasion of his first visit to the Pope — at a Divine Liturgy in St Peter's Basilica at which Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, presided as Papal Delegate. On 1 June 2011, Benedict XVI appointed him a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and on 7 March that year, of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. Following the Arab Spring and at the height of the civil war in neighbouring Syria, Patriarch Raï had the joy of welcoming the Pope on his Visit to Lebanon last September for the presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. On that occasion he described Beirut as "a city that witnessed to the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in the Arab world".