Pope Francis to visit crisis-hit Lebanon in June - Presidency

Pope Francis to visit crisis-hit Lebanon in June - Presidency
Pope FrancisFILE

Agency Report

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Lebanon in June, the country's presidency said Tuesday, in a long-awaited trip that comes amid a spiralling financial and political crisis.

"Apostolic Envoy Joseph Spiteri informed President Michel Aoun that Pope Francis will visit Lebanon next June," a presidency statement said.

Lebanon, home to one of the largest Christian communities in the Middle East, has been gripped by an unprecedented economic downturn since 2019, with more than 80 percent of the population now living in poverty.

Pope Francis, who has received Lebanon's president and prime minister in recent months, had previously promised to visit the country and repeatedly expressed concern over its growing crisis.

"The Lebanese people have been waiting for this visit for some time to express gratitude to his holiness for his support," the statement added, saying the exact date and agenda for the visit would be set at a later date.

The pope met last month with Lebanon's president, who is a Christian as dictated by the country's constitution which also divides seats in government and parliament along sectarian quotas.

In November, Pope Francis met with Lebanon's Muslim Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Vatican.

During Francis's visit to Cyprus in December, he met with the head of Lebanon's Maronite Church and expressed concern over the country's crisis.

He also received the heads of Lebanon's top churches in July and called on Lebanon's people not to despair.

The June visit would be the third by an incumbent pope since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

The last trip in 2012 saw Pope Benedict visit to appeal for peace months after the start of the Syrian civil war next door.

Pope John Paul II visited in 1997, drawing one of the largest crowds Lebanon had ever seen.

"Lebanon is more than a country -- it is a message," he said during his visit.


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