Pope prays for Lebanon during 1st public audience in months

Pope holds first public audience in months - The Irish News

Pope holds first public audience in months - The Irish News

A lack of respect for human life from conception to natural death and a lack of respect for the environment are both signs of a person claiming power over something that is not theirs to control, Pope Francis said.

Around 500 people gathered in the San Damaso courtyard at the Vatican to see the Pope.

It was a major blow to the people of Lebanon, who already were dealing with severe political and economic challenges.

The Pope had previously asked the Church in Lebanon to stick by the people in their suffering, and appealed to the global community to not abandon Lebanon in their time of need. Francis praised Lebanon as a model of peaceful cohabitation between different backgrounds and religions and asked that this legacy not be abandoned.

"For over a hundred years, Lebanon has been a country of hope", he said. "Even in the darkest periods of its history, the Lebanese people have maintained their faith in God and have shown the ability to make their country a place of tolerance, respect and coexistence - unique in the region".

Only if Catholics are willing to work with the people "in a spirit of fraternity among all the religious traditions that exists in Lebanon" will they be able to offer a fruitful contribution to the country and the Arab world, he said. He particularly urged "political and religious leaders to commit themselves with sincerity and openness to the work of rebuilding, setting aside all partisan interests and looking to the common good and the future of the nation".

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He exhorted the people of Beirut to take courage and find strength in faith and prayer. "Do not allow the dream of those who believed in the future of a handsome and prosperous country to fail", he said.

"I renew my call to the worldwide community to support the country so that it can come out of this serious crisis", the pope said.

The Vatican press office said the pope handed his prepared text to members of the group and then had an unscripted conversation with them, telling them that his own "ecological conversion" began in 2007 by listening to Brazilian bishops at the Latin American bishops' meeting in Aparecida, Brazil.

Encounter, dialogue and brotherhood are needed now more than ever, the pope said.

For that reason, the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will visit Beirut as an expression of solidarity.

Finally, Pope Francis invited "everyone to join in a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on Friday, 4 September".

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