Pope Francis announced he has invited the Christian leaders of Lebanon to the Vatican to reflect and pray as Middle Eastern country’s political and economic situation continues to worsen.
After praying the Angelus prayer last Sunday with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square, the pope said he will meet with leaders of Lebanon’s Christian communities on 1st July “for a day of reflection on the country’s troubling situation and to pray together for the gift of peace and stability.”
“I entrust this intention to the intercession of the Mother of God, deeply venerated at the Shrine of Harissa, and from this moment on I ask you to accompany the preparation for this event with supportive prayer, invoking for that beloved country a more peaceful future,” he said.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri, who was designated prime minister in October, failed to reach an agreement on forming a government, each assigning blame on the other for the political stalemate.
Furthermore, the country’s economic woes because of a freefalling currency and the Covid-19 pandemic were exacerbated after a massive explosion last year at the port of Beirut killed at least 180 people, wounded 6,000 and displaced as many as 300,000 others from their homes.
Pope Francis met with Hariri on 22nd April and expressed his hope that the country’s politicians would work together for the good of the nation.
“The pope wanted to reaffirm his closeness to the Lebanese people who are living through a time of great difficulty and uncertainty,” said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said in April.
In a series of tweets posted after the meeting, Hariri said the pope “will visit Lebanon,” but only after a government is formed.
Picture: Pope Francis and Maronite Father Georges Briedi hold a Lebanese flag as they pray for the country during the pope’s general audience at the Vatican in this September 2020, file photo. (CNS photo/Guglielmo Mangiapane, Reuters)