In Lebanon, Vatican Official Urges Peace, Working Together

Lebanon’s leaders must “make the decisive decision to work for peace and not for their own interests,” said Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Pope Francis Envoy.

Newsroom (08/02/2022 1:30 PM Gaudium Press) Throughout his Jan. 31-Feb. 4 2022 visit to Lebanon — featuring meetings with government officials, religious leaders, scholars and migrant children — Archbishop Paul Gallagher reiterated Pope Francis’ concern for Lebanon.

“The Holy Father instructed me to convey to the Lebanese people his closeness and concern for Lebanon and the Lebanese, in the deep economic, social and political crisis which they are going through,” the archbishop said after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

“The Lebanese people continue to suffer greatly. Everyone can see it,” Archbishop Gallagher said during a symposium at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik. “Poverty is growing, many families cannot access their bank accounts, schools, universities and hospitals suffer from lack of funding.”

As he did several other times during the visit, he urged people to work together for the nation’s good. “Division along with political and economic deadlock can be overcome through real democracy, which consists of dialogue, unity, compromise and a preference for the common good,” he said.

After meeting President Aoun, the archbishop said it was time to end the situation in which some people profited “from the suffering of all. It is not allowed for half the truth to frustrate the people’s hopes. Stop using Lebanon and the Middle East for foreign interests. The Lebanese people must have the opportunity to be the makers of a better future, better than any outside interference.

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“We fear that the future of this country will not be guaranteed,” he added. “We call on everyone, and all leaders, whether locally or internationally, to preserve Lebanon as a message of living together, brotherhood and hope among religions,” the top Vatican diplomat said.

St. Joseph University

In a Feb. 1 meeting with academics at St. Joseph University, Archbishop Gallagher expressed his hope “that the current economic crisis, which sees schools and universities in Lebanon suffering greatly, will soon end.”

He warned that the absence of culture and education “provides fertile soil for extremism to develop.”

“Lebanon is a hub of multiple religions and confessions. Throughout the centuries, and not without difficulty, the Lebanese have given witness to the value of dialogue among religions,” he said.

“I strongly believe Lebanon could play an important role, providing an example of fraternity and dialogue for the entire Middle East and the Mediterranean region,” he said.

After meeting with families of the August 2020 Beirut port explosions, as well as leaders of Christian churches, he said he would “return to Rome with a clearer vision of the difficulties and the role of the church in the future and research regarding the possibility of helping Lebanon in these difficult times.”

(Via CNS)

Compiled by Saju Hasmukh

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