VATICAN — On Sunday afternoon, His Holiness Pope Francis received His Holiness, Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Bechara Boutros al-Raï in the Vatican. During the meeting, Patriarch al-Raï delivered a detailed report on the situation in Lebanon and the wider region, reiterating his invitation to Pope Francis to visit Lebanon. His Holiness also presented the dangers and challenges facing Lebanon, after a series of negative regional developments and internal political crises, especially the long delay in forming a new government.
The accumulated harsh conditions and bitter incidents within the country have increased poverty and thus emigration.
Patriarch al-Raï also conveyed the Lebanese people’s concerns over the potential loss over their unique model of governance that aims for coexistence between religions, the removal of which, he said, would threaten the Christian presence in the country.
The dire situations in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the region has led to the emigrations of a large portion of what remained of the Christians of the East, leading to a regrettable loss of diversity.
“Fear of hunger and thus pursuit of migration rises in the minds and hearts of the Lebanese people,” the Patriarch declared, considering that Lebanon must emerge from its current ordeals before it is too late.
Pope Francis, in turn, renewed his solidarity with the Lebanese people, stressing that he is continuously praying for them.