Pope Francis tells Aoun he intends to visit Lebanon

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Mass celebrated at St Maroun Church in Rome

Pope Francis tells Aoun he intends to visit Lebanon

dailystar.com.lb and nna-leb.gov.lb

Pope Francis intends to visit Lebanon, the Pontiff told President Michel Aoun when the pair met Thursday, March 16, as part of Aoun’s two-day Vatican visit.

“Popes [have] always supported Lebanon, and Lebanon looks up to the Holy See with the utmost appreciation and gratitude,” Aoun was quoted as saying in a statement released by his press office.

Before beginning their discussion, Aoun and Francis exchanged gifts.

The conversation between the two touched on the situation in the Middle East and the precarious situation of Christians in the region, particularly in Syria, Palestine and Iraq.

Regarding his own country, Aoun said Lebanon was unified – Christians and Muslims alike – in the fight against terrorism.

“Lebanon has demonstrated that Christians and Muslims can work together to build one nation, in which Christians believe that the Muslim is his brother and vice versa,” Aoun said.

A statement from the Holy See’s press office described the discussions as cordial and said the talks underlined the historic and institutional role of the church in the life of Lebanon.

The talks, according to the Vatican’s statement, “emphasized the hope for an increasingly fruitful future collaboration between the members of diverse ethnic and religious communities for ... the development of the nation.”

Stressing the need for a political solution to conflict in the Middle East, the pontiff also thanked Aoun for the welcome extended by Lebanon to refugees from the neighboring crises.

“Finally, there was a broader exchange of views on the regional context, referring also to other ongoing conflicts and the situation of Christians in the Middle East,” the papal statement said.

Aoun then met with the Holy See’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, retired Brig. Gen. Shamel Roukoz, and other members of the visiting Lebanese delegation.

They discussed the political situation in Lebanon, as well as the situation in Syria and Iraq.

Aoun mentioned the important roles Christians play in the region, stressing the importance of their cooperation with Muslims on counterterrorism efforts in Lebanon.

“The future of the rebuilding of Lebanon and the fight against terrorism requires all Lebanese [people], starting with the complete partnership between Christians and Muslims,” he said. Aoun reassured Parolin that disagreements between various Lebanese factions were based on political rather than religious differences.

“Levantine Christians anticipate this trip with hope, to ensure that Lebanon remains a powerful model for the East and the world,” Aoun said, upon his arrival in the city.

Aoun attends Mass in the Vatican

Mass was also celebrated at St Maroun Church at the headquarters of the Maronite Patriarchal Agency in Rome, in honor of President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, Lebanese First Lady Nadia Shami Aoun and his accompanying delegation, in the presence of dignitaries and Lebanese community members there.

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 18:01
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