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Monday,17 June, 2024
The President met the Vatican Foreign Minister: “We are making our efforts so that Lebanon remains the home of the message for the East and the West. We strive to preserve Lebanon in accordance with this vision despite the difficulties”.
The President met the Vatican Foreign Minister: “We are making our efforts so that Lebanon remains the home of the message for the East and the West. We strive to preserve Lebanon in accordance with this vision despite the difficulties”.
01/02/2022

President Aoun: “The role played by the Holy See is in the interest of all Lebanese, and we look forward to continuing it”.

 

Monsignor Gallagher: “The Pope wants to come to Lebanon soon, and he is concerned about Lebanon and the Lebanese. The Pope considers that Lebanon must remain a peace project”.

 

Monsignor Gallagher: “We call on everyone to preserve Lebanon as a message of coexistence, brotherhood and hope among religions”.

 

Monsignor Gallagher: “We share your desire for the return of the displaced, and we are committed to continuing to work for that”.

 

Monsignor Gallagher: “We encourage dialogue between the Lebanese, and if there is an invitation to the Holy See, we can play the role of facilitator or mediator”.

 

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, asserted that he is exerting all efforts so that Lebanon remains the homeland and message for the east and west, according to what Pope, John-Paul II wanted. The President also stressed that “As Lebanese, we believe that our homeland is a message, and we strive to preserve it in accordance with this vision despite all difficulties, which are many”.

Positions of President Aoun came while meeting Holy See Secretary for Relations between Countries, Monsignor Richard Paul Gallagher, today at the Presidential Palace.

The meeting was attended by: Papal Ambassador to Lebanon, Monsignor Joseph Spitri, Chargé d'Affairs at the Papal Embassy, Monsignor Giuseppe Franconi and Monsignor Marco Formica.

On the Lebanese side: former Minister, Salim Jreissati, Director General of the Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and advisors Rafic Chelala, Antoine Constantine and Osama Khashab.

Monsignor Gallagher is on a visit to Lebanon “At the request of Pope Francis, bearing the closeness of the Holy Father to the Lebanese people of all their sects, in the current difficult circumstances which the country is passing through”.

Monsignor Gallagher began the meeting by conveying the greetings of Pope Francis to President Aoun, and through the President to the Lebanese, stressing his “Meticulous follow-up on the developments in the Lebanese situation”.

Monsignor Gallagher quoted the Pope that “Lebanon deserves exceptional attention, because the entire Middle East looks to Lebanon as a message for the future, and from here comes the necessity of preserving the Lebanese national identity. If the situation develops positively, the Lebanese national identity will be reflected in the region. A strong and united Lebanon can set an example for the entire Middle East, with its Christians and Muslims, in the service of the common good for all, and this is the truth of the Lebanese call. We hope that this role will be played again in the future and it is easy to say that Lebanon is a message, but we must work together so that this message becomes a tangible reality”.

Monsignor Gallagher also emphasized that Pope Francis expressed his desire to visit Lebanon. “His Holiness will come soon, but we have to define the meaning of the word soon” Monsignor Gallagher said, wishing President Aoun to pay a visit to the Holy See.

For his part, President Aoun thanked Pope Francis for the depth of his love for Lebanon and his closeness to the Lebanese, on several occasions, wishing Monsignor Gallagher to convey the love of the Lebanese of different sects to His Holiness, and their attachment to the Holy See.

“We thank the Holy See in all its departments for the care it pays to Lebanon, and for standing to heal the wounds of the Lebanese through the assistance it provides on multiple levels, especially during the difficulties which Lebanon is witnessing” the President said.

The President also recalled the private meeting he had with the Pope and senior officials in the Vatican at the beginning of his presidential term, and said “We look forward with great interest to the visit that His Holiness promised to carry out to Lebanon, hoping that it will be the beginning of Lebanon’s resurrection and recovering from its crises. The role played by the Holy See is in the interest of all the Lebanese, hence the great appreciation that everyone has for them, looking forward to the Holy Father as a guarantor of Lebanon’s importance and presence in its surroundings and the world”.

“We look forward to continuing this support in view of the gravity of the challenges facing us, which are unprecedented in the modern history of Lebanon. We hope that with this support, along with other friends of Lebanon in the world, we will overcome the negative repercussions of regional crises and conflicts” President Aoun stressed.

Statement:

After the meeting,, Monsignor Gallagher made the following statement:

“I come to Beirut on the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Lebanon, and on the 25th anniversary of the apostolic visit of His Holiness, Pope John-Paul II, to Lebanon on the occasion of signing the Apostolic Exhortation “A New Hope for Lebanon”.

We also recall that this occasion is the 10th anniversary of the apostolic visit of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to Lebanon.

The Holy Father instructed me to convey, to the Lebanese people, his closeness and concern for Lebanon and the Lebanese, in the deep economic, social and political crisis which they are going through. When the Holy Father went to the Diplomatic Corps dinner a few days ago, to celebrate the New Year, he said the following about Lebanon: “I believe that necessary reforms, in addition to the support of the international community, will help Lebanon continue its own identity, as an example of peaceful coexistence and brotherhood between different religions. On this occasion, I urge the international community to continue providing support and assistance to Lebanon to reach the path of resurrection, and I hope that this country will continue to play the role of a model and an example as a society full of tolerance and pluralism in the Middle East, where the Christian community can make its contribution”.

In his speech to the diplomatic corps in 2021, Pope Francis said the following about Lebanon “Christians, through their educational, health and humanitarian work, constitute an integral part of the social and historical roots of Lebanon. It is necessary to ensure that Christians can continue their efforts for the sake of the country of which they were one of its founders. Any weakening of Christian presence would destroy the internal balance and the Lebanese identity.

I would like to benefit from this opportunity to express my closeness and sympathy to the victims of the horrific explosion of the Beirut Port on August 4th, 2020, and their families. I hope that all the Lebanese and victims of families receive consolation in their faith and in the pursuit of justice.

Finally, allow me to remind you of what Pope Francis said on July 1, 2021, when he gathered the heads of Churches in the Vatican “In these hopeful days, we would like to emphasize that Lebanon was, is and must remain a peace project”.  His call is for Lebanon to be a land of tolerance and pluralism, and an oasis of eternity where all sects and religions meet, and sects live together, putting public interest and common good above their own interests. Here, I would like to reiterate the need for those in power to make the decisive decision to work for peace and not for their own interests. Let this be the end of some who profit from the suffering of all. It is not allowed for half the truth to frustrate the hopes of the people. Stop using Lebanon and the Middle East for foreign interests. The Lebanese people must have the opportunity for their own sons to be the makers of a better future, better than any outside interference”.

Questions & Answers:

Question: I would like to ask you the question of all the Lebanese: Will the Pope be among us during this year, and he had reiterated yesterday his intention to visit our country?

Answer: “The Pope assured me, before I started this visit that he intends and wants to come to Lebanon, very soon. But it remains for us to define the meaning of the word soon. He wants to come and he will come”.

Question: We, as Lebanese, know that our homeland is more than one country. It is a message for Pope Saint John-Paul II, and he is the heart and mind of the world for Pope Benedict, and here is Pope Francis repeating that it is a homeland and a message. And yet Pope John Paul II has expressed since 1989 his fear that this Lebanon will disappear, considering Lebanon’s demise as “The world's greatest regret”. In the Holy See, do you fear the demise of this Lebanon?

Answer: “This is self-evident when we observe what is happening not only in Lebanon, but also in the region. Yes, we fear that the future of this country will not be guaranteed. We call on everyone, and all leaders, whether locally or internationally, to preserve Lebanon as a message of living together, brotherhood and hope among religions”.

Question: We are suffering from a multi-sided crisis, the impact of which has been compounded by the presence of about three million displaced Syrians and Palestinian refugees. Is the Holy See ready to help us solve this aspect, especially since many areas in Syria have become safe?

Answer: “We are actively committed, during our talks with representatives of the countries of the region and international organizations, to this matter. We share this desire for the return of the displaced. But there is a difference of ideas regarding the security situation of the displaced Syrians. We are trying to work on this issue and we have held discussions in this regard in Baghdad and with the European Union on the reconstruction in Syria, and with the European Commission for Refugees. But these consultations were not very fruitful, but we are committed to this issue and will continue this effort”.

Question: You talked about establishing Lebanon’s special identity. Can you invite the leaders to a national dialogue to establish this special identity? Is the Vatican, which played a decisive role in ending the civil war, ready to sponsor such a dialogue?

Answer: “In fact, diplomatic activity is a dialogue and discourse between representatives of internationally recognized entities. In this case, we are talking about Lebanon and its government on one hand, and about the Holy See on the other. In any dialogue, it is not possible to predict what the outcome will be, but it is self-evident. We will implicitly and explicitly encourage political leaders and civil society according to the degree to which we will be in contact. When we talk about the role of facilitator or mediator between political actors, we can play this role if there is an invitation to the Holy See from all parties concerned to play this role. So if there is this desire or collective invitation, we are ready to play this role”.

Word of Honor:

Monsignor Gallagher wrote the following phrase in the Presidential Palace ceremonial register:

“I bring to Lebanon the prayers of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and his best wishes for the Lebanese who are facing great challenges, praying to the Almighty God to fortify Lebanon’s steps on the path of recovery, cooperation and love”.​