Pope Francis concluded the Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon which took place on Thursday, in the presence of nine Christian patriarchs from the country, with a vibrant appeal for the land of the Cedar.
Nine leaders of the Christian communities of Lebanon, Catholic, Orthodox, Chaldean, Armenian and Evangelical gathered in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Thursday, July 1 duringa day of reflection and prayer organized by the Vatican.
During the day, the Lebanese patriarchs participated in three closed-door working sessions before a final prayer in the basilica reports Asia News. At the end of this time of reflection, Pope Francis delivered a speech in support of the Lebanese people who "need plans for peace and not for misfortune".
“We believe that God has shown us only one way: the way of peace. Let us therefore assure our Muslim brothers and sisters, and those of other religions, of our openness and our availability to work together to build fraternity and promote peace. [...] I hope that this day will be followed by concrete initiatives under the aegis of dialogue, educational efforts and solidarity. »
The pontiff also urged the Lebanese political class to find "urgent and lasting solutions to the current economic, social and political crisis, knowing that there can be no peace without justice", he hopes that the international community will take action concrete actions to help Lebanon in the future.
The Pope's appeal is addressed to all “Citizens of Lebanon” whom he urges not to be discouraged. He also expressed the hope that the country will once again become a "land of tolerance and pluralism, an oasis of brotherhood where different religions and faiths meet, where different communities live together, putting the common good before their individual interests".
The Pope then encouraged the Lebanese in the diaspora to put their resources at the service of their homeland.
Recalling the words "full of hope" of the poet Gibran, François recalled that "beyond the black curtain of night, there is a dawn that awaits us" and that there is no "other way to come to the dawn that an honest dialogue and pure intentions ”.
"We can bring light where there is darkness" added the bishop of Rome who encourages believers to entrust "all effort and commitment to Christ, Prince of Peace" so that "by the unshielded rays of his mercy, darkness flees, twilight vanishes, shadows dissipate and the night goes away ”.
A survey published on July 1 by theUNICEF on the consequences of the collapse of the economy on children in Lebanon underlines the seriousness of the situation in the country which continues to worsen. According to the report, more than 30% of Lebanese children suffer from hunger and 77% of households do not have enough money to eat properly.
The document released by UNICEF also reveals that 15% of families send their children to work instead of school, so that they can earn some money. “The World Bank has described what is happening in Lebanon as one of the three biggest economic collapses since the middle of the 19th century,” reports Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF representative in Lebanon.
It is a testament to the “negative adaptation measures” that many families are forced to take in order to cope.
“With no improvement in sight, more children than ever are going to bed hungry in Lebanon. The health, education and very future of children are affected by soaring prices and continuing rising unemployment. More and more families are forced to resort to negative adaptation measures, including sending their children to work in often dangerous conditions, marrying their young daughters or selling their property. "
“Determined and concerted action is essential to alleviate suffering, especially among the most vulnerable, who are trapped in a spiral of poverty. Says the UNICEF representative.
Camille Westphal Perrier
Image Credit: P.jowdy / Shutterstock.com
Article originally published in July 2021.