Pope Francis met today with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rahi, who visited him in the Vatican and presented him with a detailed report on the prevailing conditions in Lebanon and the region.
The Patriarch renewed his invitation to the Holy See to visit Lebanon, in light of its special importance and significance for the Lebanese in general, and for the Christians in particular.
During the encounter, Patriarch al-Rahi briefed the Pope on the risks and challenges facing Lebanon, in wake of regional developments and the internal political crisis, especially the stalled government formation.
He added that the ongoing political crises have created a bitter economic reality that has caused an increase in the number of underprivileged families and a wide migration among the youth, in addition to the repercussions of the tragic Beirut port explosion which destroyed a large part of the capital in which Christians reside, "who did not feel any solidarity nor practical responsibility on part of the concerned official authorities and the government."
The Patriarch also touched on the issue of Lebanon's "active neutrality", which constitutes "a return to Lebanon's true and basic identity, and provides a gateway to political stability and economic advancement in all its sectors, and allows Lebanon to re-open to the countries of the East and the West.
In turn, Pope Francis renewed his support for Lebanon and solidarity for its people, stressing his constant prayers for them.
Following the visit, Patriarch al-Rahi described it as "very fruitful and excellent," adding that he felt the Pope's positive reaction to the invitation to visit Lebanon which he loves.