Pope Francis announced on Sunday he would hold a meeting on July 1 in Rome to discuss Lebanon’s dire situation with Christian representatives from the country.
Francis said after Sunday’s Angelus prayer: “I’ll meet at the Vatican with the leaders of the Christian communities in Lebanon to reflect on the worrying situation in the country and pray together for the gift of peace and stability.”
On April 22, the pope promised Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri that he would visit the country but only after political forces put aside differences for the good of the people.
Hariri told Lebanese television afterwards that Francis would visit but only once its fractious politicians were able to agree on a new government.
“I explained to His Holiness Pope Francis the problems we are suffering from and asked His Holiness to help Lebanon,” Hariri said.
“His Holiness the pope will visit Lebanon but after a government is formed. And this is a message to the Lebanese, that we must form a government so that everyone can gather … to revive Lebanon with our friends,” he said.
A Vatican statement said Francis “reaffirmed his closeness to the Lebanese people, who are living through very difficult and uncertain times, and spoke of the responsibility of all political forces to urgently commit themselves to the good of the nation.”
Hariri, a three-time prime minister, stepped down in 2019 after nationwide demonstrations against a political elite which protesters blamed for dragging the country into crisis.
He was nominated premier again in October but remains at loggerheads with President Michel Aoun over a cabinet lineup.
Lebanon is still reeling from a massive explosion caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate at the Port of Beirut. The blast killed at least 200 people, injured more than 6,000 and rendered 300,000 others homeless.
Large sections of the port and its infrastructure were destroyed, including most of Beirut’s grain reserves, and billions of dollars in damages were inflicted across the city.