On Thursday, March 16, the Pope received in audience the interim prime minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati. The audience was announced in a communiqué from the Holy See Press Office, which also noted that the head of the Lebanese government subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations.
Concern for the situation of the Lebanese
The communiqué noted the concern expressed by the Holy See for “regarding the difficult socio-economic situation faced by the Lebanese population, aggravated by the current institutional stalemate of the country as it urgently awaits the election of a new President of the Republic.”
Peaceful coexistence between people of different faiths
The note said that “the need for peaceful coexistence among Lebanese of different faiths to be strengthened in order to guarantee peace and stability for the entire region was also reiterated,” while “emphasizing the importance of the inalienable presence of Christians in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East.”
Exchange of gifts
According to the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis offered Prime Minister Mikati the gift of a bronze work titled, “Social Love,” depicting one child helping another child up, with the inscription “Loving Helping”; as well as several volumes of papal documents, a copy of this year’s Message for Peace, the Document on Human Fraternity, and a book on the Statio Orbis of 27 March 2020.
For his part, the prime minister presented the Holy Father with a stone holy water stoup with an image of Our Lady of Sorrows.