‘Offer Lebanon Concrete Assistance,’ Pope’s Appeal to International Community

One Year After Explosion in Beirut, Reminds ‘I Greatly Desire to Visit You’

Pope at General Audience in Paul VI - Copyright: Vatican Media

Offer concrete assistance to Lebanon, not just in words, but real actions that accomplish a ‘resurrection’ of the Middle Eastern nation…

This was Pope Francis’ adamant appeal for Lebanon toward the conclusion of his Aug. 4 General Audience inside the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, marking Francis’ first since his traditional July break and July 4 colon surgery. The Holy Father continued his catechesis on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, and in particular, considering St. Paul’s insistence on complete fidelity to the Gospel.

After the Pope’s Catechesis, the Pope made a strong appeal for the nation which experienced a tragic port explosion just one year ago.

“In these days, I think especially of the beloved country of Lebanon a year after the terrible port explosion in its capital, Beirut, with its toll of death and destruction,” the Pontiff said, noting he thinks, above all, of the victims and their families, the many injured, and those who lost their homes and livelihoods.

“So many people have lost the desire to go on,” he recognized.

On July 1, the Pope held a Day of Prayer and Reflection for Lebanon, together with Christian religious leaders, where–he recalled–“all of us listened to the hopes and aspirations, the frustrations and weariness o f the Lebanese people, and we prayed for God’s gift of hope to overcome this difficult crisis.”

“Today I would also appeal to the international community to offer Lebanon concrete assistance, not only with words but with concrete actions in undertaking a journey of “resurrection”.

“It is my hope that the current International Conference hosted by France with the support of the United Nations will prove productive in this regard.

The Holy Father reminded his “dear Lebanese friends” of how he “greatly desires” to visit them, and continues to pray for them, “so that Lebanon will once more be a message of peace and fraternity for the entire Middle East.”

Pope Francis did not hold General Audiences during July as popes generally ‘take off’ that month, other than their weekly Sunday Angelus address from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. However, always in continuity with the past, the Holy Father is resuming his General Audiences in August, and again from inside Paul VI, due to the intense August Roman heat.

In the past, prior to the pandemic, General Audiences were held in St. Peter’s Square, or in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. Since the pandemic, they often were streamed privately in the Pope’s apostolic library, and at times, when in line with health authorities’ recommendations that some gathering was safe, it was held with some faithful in the Courtyard of San Damaso.