Vatican official to international donors: Give Lebanon a chance for a ‘better future’

Pope Francis kisses the flag of Lebanon at his general audience on Sept. 2, 2020. Pope Francis kisses the flag of Lebanon at his general audience on Sept. 2, 2020. | Vatican Media.

A Vatican official urged international donors on Wednesday to give the people of Lebanon a chance to create “a better future” amid a severe political and economic crisis.

Msgr. Mirosław Wachowski, under-secretary of the Section for Relations with States of the Vatican Secretariat of State, made the appeal in an Aug. 4 video message to a donor conference in France.

“Let us help Lebanon to find its way out of this serious crisis. Let us help its people not to lose hope. And let us give the Lebanese a chance to be the protagonist of a better future in their land without undue interference,” he said.

Wachowski was speaking on the same day that Pope Francis asked the international community to offer tangible support to Lebanon a year after the devastating port explosion in the country’s capital city, Beirut.

“Today I would also appeal to the international community to offer Lebanon concrete assistance, not only with words but with concrete actions in undertaking a journey of ‘resurrection,’” the pope said at his Wednesday general audience.

“It is my hope that the current international conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will prove productive in this regard.”

The conference raised $370 million in emergency aid for Lebanon, exceeding a target of $350 million set by French President Emmanuel Macron.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced in a video message sent to the event at the Fort de Bregancon in Bormes-les-Mimosas, southeastern France, that the U.S. would give an additional $100 million humanitarian assistance to the country.

The pope and Vatican officials have led an all-out push in recent weeks to mobilize international support for Lebanon, a nation of almost seven million people caught in one of the world’s worst financial crises in the past 150 years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Food prices have risen by up to 400%, thefts have increased by 62%, and the country is facing a new wave of COVID-19 without a government.

In his address, Wachowski said: “Lebanon is more than a country. It is a universal message of peace and fraternity arising in the Middle East. Therefore it is essential that Lebanon continue to carry out its specific vocation.”

“For this to happen, the commitment of everyone, both inside and outside the country, is necessary. It is therefore essential that those in power choose finally and decisively to work for true peace and not for their own interests. Let there be an end to a few profiting from the suffering of many.”

The pope welcomed Lebanon’s Christian leaders to the Vatican for a day of prayer on July 1.

Speaking at his general audience on the first anniversary of the port explosion, Pope Francis said: “In these days, I think especially of the beloved country of Lebanon a year after the terrible port explosion in its capital, Beirut, with its toll of death and destruction. I think above all of the victims and their families, the many injured, and those who lost their homes and livelihoods. So many people have lost the desire to go on.”

He added: “Dear Lebanese friends, I greatly desire to visit you and I continue to pray for you, so that Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”

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