Lebanese bid farewell to ex-cardinal at state funeral

Lebanon is bidding farewell to the former patriarch of Lebanon's Maronite Christian church at a state funeral attended by the country's top political and spiritual leaders.

Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, who served as spiritual leader of Lebanon's largest Christian community through some of the worst days of the country's 1975-1990 civil war, died Sunday at the age of 98.

A mass was held Thursday in Bkirki, north of Beirut, the seat of the Maronite church. Clergymen carried the Sfeir's wooden coffin, made from Lebanese olive and cedar wood.

The Lebanese government declared two days of mourning starting Wednesday, during which flags are being flown at half-staff, and Thursday a day off.

Sfeir was one of the most prominent and high-ranking Christian leaders in the mostly Muslim Middle East.