Pope Francis: Lebanon cannot lose identity of coexistence

The pope plans to visit Lebanon after a Cabinet is formed

Pope Francis expressed hope that Lebanon's politicians 'work tirelessly for the common good' of the country in a letter to President Michel Aoun. EPA
Pope Francis expressed hope that Lebanon's politicians 'work tirelessly for the common good' of the country in a letter to President Michel Aoun. EPA

Pope Francis expressed his support to crises-hit Lebanon in a letter made public on Tuesday by Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

The pontiff sent his “warm prayers to the Lebanese so that they maintain courage and hope", in a letter to Mr Aoun dated March 29.

Pope Francis thanked Mr Aoun for his official invitation to visit Lebanon after he became the first pontiff to travel to Iraq in March.

In his letter, Pope Francis said that visiting Lebanon was a “project that is dear" to him but told Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Thursday that he would only visit the country once a Cabinet was formed.

Mr Hariri, who met the pontiff during a visit to Rome, asked him to help Lebanon tackle its political and economic crises.

Lebanon has been without a government since Hassan Diab resigned as prime minister after the devastating explosion at Beirut’s port last August.

But Mr Aoun and Mr Hariri, who was appointed last October, have not yet agreed on how to allocate ministerial posts that respect the country’s sectarian power-sharing agreement.

The political deadlock deepened Lebanon’s financial and economic crises. Its currency lost more than 85 per cent of its market value against the US dollar and inflation is soaring.

In the letter to Mr Aoun, Pope Francis said the country "can neither lose its identity nor its experience of fraternal coexistence which is a message to the whole world”.

“May God help you, as well as politicians, to work tirelessly for the common good of the Land of the Cedars,” said Pope Francis, making a reference to Lebanon’s national emblem, the cedar tree.

Lebanon’s Maronite Cardinal Bechara Rai invited Pope Francis to visit Lebanon during a private meeting at the Vatican on November 28.

Updated: April 27, 2021 04:20 PM

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