Pope Francis urges Lebanese leaders to put interests aside
Pope Francis on Thursday called on Lebanon’' leaders to put aside partisan interests and work to restore peace and stability in the country, which has been hit by one of the worst economic crises in modern history.
The pontiff made the appeal at the end of a day-long summit with Lebanese Christian leaders in the Vatican, where he hosted a day of prayer amid growing fears over Lebanon's political deadlock and financial collapse.
"I would reiterate how essential it is that those in power choose finally and decisively to work for true peace and not for their own interests," Pope Francis said as he concluded the prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica. "Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of many. No more letting half-truths continue to frustrate people’s aspirations."
The Pope held three private sessions with the heads of the Lebanese churches, in which he discussed possible solutions to Lebanon's "dangerous crisis" and reiterated his wish to visit Lebanon.
Tomorrow a special day of prayer and reflection on Lebanon will take place. I invite you all to join spiritually with us, praying that Lebanon may recover from the serious crisis it is going through and show the world once again its face of peace and hope.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 30, 2021
Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri said that he hoped the Vatican meeting would be successful "in inviting all Lebanese to protect their coexistence," and for Lebanon "to be blessed with the pope's visit as promised."
During a private audience with Hariri in April, the 84-year-old pontiff said he would like to visit Lebanon "as soon as the conditions are favourable." He expressed his "closeness to the Lebanese people, who are experiencing a moment of great difficulty and uncertainty" and called upon "all political forces to urgently commit themselves to the benefit of the nation".
Hariri, a three-time premier selected in October to form a new government, told Lebanese media afterwards that the pope would visit "only after the formation of a government".
Pope Francis recently made a historic trip to Iraq in March, a first-ever papal visit. He defied security fears and the pandemic to comfort one of the world's oldest Christian communities, who have suffered war and persecution at the hands of terrorist group ISIS in recent years.
His visit to Lebanon could "perhaps" come at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022, according to Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the pope's de facto foreign minister.