In a letter addressed to the head of the Church in Lebanon, Pope Francis makes an urgent appeal to political and religious leaders and to the international community to help the nation surmount the grave crisis in which it finds itself and resume a normal existence.
Writing on Christmas Eve to Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites and President of the Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, the Pope says his words are for the “Lebanese people, without distinction of community or religion.”
They are words, he says, “of comfort and encouragement as we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.”
Sharing his concern and sorrow to see the suffering and anguish that has engulfed Lebanon undermining its resilience and resourcefulness, the Pope says, “It is even more painful to see you deprived of your precious aspirations to live in peace and to continue being, for our time and our world, a message of freedom and a witness to harmonious coexistence.”
In particular, Pope Francis expresses his sorrow for the many young people of Lebanon “robbed of any hope for a better future.”
Pope Francis launches an appeal to political and religious leaders, whom he says have the responsibility of acting on behalf of the people to “seek the best interest of the public.”
“Your time should not be dedicated to pursuing your own gain, your action is not for yourselves, but for the state and the nation you represent,” he tells them
And reiterating his wish to visit Lebanon as soon as possible, the Pope also has an appeal for the international community: “Let us help Lebanon to stand apart from conflicts and regional tensions. Let us help Lebanon to surmount this grave crisis and resume a normal existence.”
The Pope is due to visit Iraq March 5-8.
In a separate message written jointly with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, and Church of Scotland moderator Martin Fair, the three church leaders committed to making a previously delayed trip to majority Christian South Sudan “as things return to normalcy.”
The message was addressed to South Sudan’s leaders, former rivals who formed a national unity government in February after years of civil war ravaged the oil-producing yet poor nation.
Main Photo: A handout picture provided by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis during his weekly general audience at Biblioteca del Palazzo Apostolico library in Vatican City, 23 December 2020. EPA-EFE/VATICAN MEDIA
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