Communiqué of the Holy See Press Office
This morning, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Prime Minister of Lebanon, His Excellency Mr. Najib Mikati, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, accompanied by His Excellency Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial talks in the Secretariat of State, the historic relations between the Holy See and Lebanon and the important role played by the Catholic Church in the country were emphasised. Reference was made to the current situation that the Lebanese people are experiencing, especially with regard to the political crisis and socio-economic conditions, and the hope that justice, the necessary reforms and the support of the international community will help to restore the fate of the Country of Cedars.
Furthermore, in reiterating the importance of promoting the concept of full citizenship for every Lebanese, the importance of peaceful coexistence was emphasised, so that Lebanon might continue to be a message of peace and fraternity that rises from the Middle East.
(Working translation of the original text in Italian)
Exchange of gifts
A traditional exchange of gifts followed the private meeting between the two leaders. Prime Minister Mikati presented the Pope with a tile from the Greek Melkite Church of Saint Saviour in Beirut. One of the oldest churches in the Lebanese capital, Saint Saviour was badly damaged during the 1975 war; but was fully restored and opened again to parishioners in 1973. The Church was severely damaged by the explosion of 4 August 2020.
For his part, Pope Francis offered the Lebanese prime minister a bronze casting of workers in a vineyard, with the inscription, “May the fruit of the vine and of human labour become for us the draught of salvation”; along with a number of documents published during his papacy.
At the conclusion of the exchange of gifts, the Pope addressed a few words to those present, stating that “Lebanon is a country, a message, and also a promise, to strive for.”
The Holy Father noted that Lebanon has been through bad and difficult times, and he assured them of his prayers, his closeness and his labour, so that a common effort might take shape to help Lebanon rise again. Finally, he recalled the Gospel passage in which Jesus went to Jairus’ house and, taking his dead daughter by the hand, said to her: “Get up!” to which he added a prayer, saying, “Lord God, take Lebanon by the hand and say to her: ‘Get up!’”
Closing the encounter, the Holy Father invited those present to pause for a moment of silent prayer.