Pope Francis called for a Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon on July 1. This is to help revive hope and peace in a country oppressed by years of political, economic, and social crises, which came to a head after the violent explosion in August 2020.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, said the purpose of the day is to “walk together.” He confirmed that the Christian community of Lebanon, represented by the heads of respective Churches and Ecclesial Communities, will come to Rome to reflect and pray together.
The cardinal added that the day-long initiative will be spiritual in nature and will be brought to a close by a speech by the Pope. (Read: Pope Receives Crucifix Made From Remains of Lebanon Blast)
“[The speech] will certainly contain recommendations and appeals that will emerge from the day’s discussions, which could be important for the future of Lebanon,” said Cardinal Sandri.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, explained that no politicians are expected for the occasion. It comes as Lebanon has requested that the gathering be treated as a strictly “religious meeting of Christian communities,” which the Holy Father accepted.
Archbishop Gallagher pointed out that Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his desire to visit Lebanon but would like to do so when the country finds a solution to the political crisis. The meeting in the Vatican, he said, could make a contribution to this process.
At this point, “it is difficult” to envisage a trip by the Pope to Lebanon by the end of the year but it is more likely at the beginning of next year, Archbishop Gallagher said. (Read: Pope Francis Leads Prayers for Victims of Lebanon Explosion)
Together for Lebanon
“The Lord God has plans for peace. Together for Lebanon,” is the motto that stands out on the logo of the July 1 event. (Read: Beirut Church to Reopen Following 2020 Blast)
The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Santa Marta, with a welcoming message by the Pope. It will be followed by a brief moment of prayer in St. Peter’s Basilica. After 3 separate meetings at different intervals, the day will be brought to a close with a speech by Pope Francis at 6 p.m.
Lebanon, a Mediterranean nation of 5 million, has the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East and is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state. Christians make up a third of the population.