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Cardinal Sfeir, patriarch emeritus of the Maronites, dies at the age of 98

Lebanon is the Middle Eastern country with the most Catholics. The majority of them are Maronites and until 2011 their patriarch was Nasrala Butros Sfeir. He died on Sunday at the age of 98 from respiratory failure.

Butros Sfeir led the Maronite community through difficult times in Lebanon, such as the conclusion of the civil war and the post-war period. St. John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1994.

According to the 2017 Pontifical Yearbook, the Maronite Church is made up of almost 3.5 million people, more than 900 priests and 43 bishops.

With his death, the number of cardinals falls to 221, 120 of whom are eligible to vote in conclave.