Pope Francis during the day of prayer dedicated to Lebanon, July 1, 2021. Photo Credit: Vatican.va
Pope Francis during the day of prayer dedicated to Lebanon, July 1, 2021. Photo Credit: Vatican.va

A day under the sign of Lebanon took place yesterday at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Francis who welcomed the leaders of the Lebanese, Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities. These Lebanese dignitaries were received at the Maison Sainte-Marthe, and then went to Saint Peter’s Basilica to pray in front of the apostle’s tomb and to invoke peace in Lebanon. Each of them lit a candle as a sign of hope to the Lebanese people mired in a political, social and economic crisis. It should be noted that during this special day of prayer in Lebanon, no Lebanese politician was invited, which was perceived by the Lebanese public as a very strong message to send to the Lebanese political class which seems no longer represent his people.

Three sessions of closed-door consultations followed, moderated by Bishop Joseph Spiteri, apostolic nuncio in Lebanon. This day ended in St. Peter’s Basilica with an ecumenical prayer, punctuated by the reading of extracts from the Word of God, prayers and songs from the various Arab, Syriac, Armenian, Aramaic and Chaldean liturgical traditions.

The Pope finally addressed a word of conclusion to the assembly, renewing his wish to visit the country of the Cedar in the near future, declaring himself deeply concerned by the serious crisis he is undergoing.

Pray with insistence

The Sovereign Pontiff underlined that the Lebanese people, whom he described as “disappointed and exhausted” thirst for certainty and peace in these dark times, urging them “not to resign themselves, not to tire of to implore from Heaven that peace that men are struggling to build on earth ”*.

“Let us insist on this peace for the Middle East and for Lebanon. This dear country, a treasure of civilization and spirituality, which has radiated wisdom and culture over the centuries, which bears witness to a unique experience of peaceful coexistence, cannot be left at the mercy of fate or of those who unscrupulously pursue their personal interests “*.

The Pope considered that Lebanon a small-large country which must remain a universal message of peace, tolerance and fraternity in the Middle East, “where different religions and faiths meet, where diverse communities coexist by putting the common good before special interests ”*.

No to the profiteers of Lebanon

Indignant against the profiteers who destabilize the country, the Holy Father exclaimed: “That is enough, the advantages of a few on the backs of many!

That is enough, the domination of party truths over the hopes of the people!

It is enough to use Lebanon and the Middle East for foreign interests and profits! »* While calling on the Lebanese to be the protagonists of a better future without abusive interference.

For residents, politicians and the diaspora

Saluting the richness of the country’s unique history, Pope Francis addressed the Lebanese in these terms “Your tall cedars, symbols of the country, also remind us that great branches are born only from deep roots” *.

“To you, citizens: do not be discouraged, do not weaken, find in the roots of your history the hope of germinating again.

To you, political leaders: so that, according to your responsibilities, you find urgent and stable solutions to the current economic, social and political crisis, remembering that there is no peace without justice.

To you, dear Lebanese of the diaspora: so that you put the energies and the best resources at your disposal at the service of your homeland.

To you, members of the international community: through a joint effort, may the conditions be set so that the country does not collapse, but begins a path of recovery. It will be good for everyone. ”

The mission of Christians

Hoping that the day of the 1 er July be followed by tangible initiatives “under the sign of dialogue, educational commitment and solidarity” *, the Pope recalled that “the future will only be peaceful if it is common”, stressing that the mission des Chrétiens is a mission of peace: “To be sowers of peace and builders of fraternity, not to live with resentment and past remorse, not to shy away from the responsibilities of the present, to cultivate a look of hope.”

A new dawn for Lebanon

Quoting the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, “Beyond the black veil of night, a dawn awaits us” the sovereign pontiff described the young people as torches burning in the darkness “Let us look at the children: that their eyes shining, but filled with too much of tears, shake the conscience and guide the choices ”*.

Pope Francis did not forget the Lebanese woman, invoking the Mother of all at the top of the hill of Harissa. “Women are the generators of life and hope for all; that they be respected, valued and involved in the decision-making processes of Lebanon ”.

He also invited the older generations to listen, an idea not mentioned in the initial speech: “May they give us the mystique of history, may they give us the foundations of the country to move it forward.” They have the will to start dreaming again: let’s listen to them, so that in us these dreams turn into prophecy ”*.

Taking up the sentence taken from the writings of Khalil Gibran, he concludes thus “And in the night of the crisis, we must remain united. May the night of conflict dissipate and a dawn of hope resurface. May animosities cease, may disagreements disappear, and may Lebanon begin to shine the light of peace again ”*.

* Phrases taken from the Pope’s direct speech translated into French by the official Vatican website.

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