On June 1, 2021, the day titled, “The Lord God Has Plans of Peace. Together for Lebanon,” His Holiness Pope Francis was joined by leaders of the different Christian Churches and communities of Lebanon, with their delegations on a day of prayer and reflection for their country as well as for consultations for the future of Lebanon at the Vatican.
They leaders included Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites; Youhanna X, Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East; Ignatius Aphrem II, Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia of the Armenians; Ignatius Youssef III, Syro-Catholic Patriarch of Antioch; Youssef Absi, Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkite Greeks; Reverend Joseph Kassab, President of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Communities of Syria and Lebanon; and Michel Kassarji, Bishop of Beirut of the Chaldeans greeted and prayed with Pope Francis. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States accompanied them.
Despite the fact that a Vatican statement said earlier that Vatican's initiative was no designed to seek a political solution but to pray and read the signs of the time, yet the meeting was of prime importance as it responded to the cry of the Lebanese people, shared their suffering, and earnestly sought divine intervention and mercy aimed at alleviating their suffering and instill social peace in this troubled nation.
In his prayerful plea for peace on the day of reflection and prayer for Lebanon, the Pope expressed his opinion vehemently and forcefully by saying, “Stop using Lebanon and the Middle East for outside interests and profits,” He added, “The Lebanese people must be given the opportunity to be the architects of a better future in their land, without undue interference.”
Quoting the Holy Bible, the Pope drew a vivid comparison between the suffering woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon who pleaded with Lord Jesus and was healed on the one hand and the Lebanese people on the other by reassuring the entire Lebanese people that "her plea has become that of an entire people, the disillusioned and weary Lebanese people in need of certainty, hope, and peace."
Expressing his firm and unwavering support for Lebanon, he said, “Lebanon cannot be left prey to the course of events or those who pursue their own unscrupulous interests. It is a small yet great country, but even more, it is a universal message of peace and fraternity arising from the Middle East.”
He also urged the international community to ensure that the country will not collapse and will be placed on the path to recovery. He called for insistent prayers for "the beloved country of Lebanon, a treasure of civilization and spirituality that has radiated wisdom and culture down the centuries and bears witness to a singular experience of peaceful common living."
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PAPAL MEETING WITH LEADERS OF LEBANESE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES?
This meeting with the leaders of the different Christian Churches and communities of Lebanon has nonpareil importance for the following five reasons:
First: It restored Lebanon to the focal point of attention of the entire international community by urging quick action to be taken in order to extricate this country from the bleak situation awaiting it.
Second: It showed the Lebanese, particularly the Christian communities, that the Holy See never leaves Lebanon to fall and that there is a strident need to restore its status quo ante. This will indirectly forestall any plan by young people who seek to emigrate and to convince them that a bright future is awaiting them.
Third: It indicated that Lord Jesus will not leave Lebanon alone, as is the case with the sick woman who was healed by the Lord, whereby prayers seeking the Lord's intercession will continue until a miracle takes place soon.
Fourth: It explicitly called on those who keep Lebanon prey and victim to their unscrupulous interests to stop doing so because Lebanon is "a treasure of civilization and spirituality" and it must not be manipulated as a backyard for conflicts and interest of foreign powers.
Fifth: The Pope assured that Lebanese that Lebanon will not be left alone and that he will visit Lebanon in due times once its restores its peace, beauty, and cast its nonpareil effulgence on the entire Middle East region.
Pope Francis, the man of peace and of common living, is blessed as he has all the times been a holy man of peace, according to Lord Jesus' Beatitude, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
It is important to join Pope Francis in his prayers for Lebanon and say:
“Lord Jesus, we ask that you come and bless all the people of Lebanon. Bless all those on the streets or in their homes. We pray for those in authority, come Lord Jesus and put Your peace in their hearts, so that an immediate solution can be reached that will alleviate the Lebanese' suffering and ailment. Amen.