In his Christmas Day messages on Thursday, Pope Francis promised that he would visit Lebanon and South Sudan as soon as possible.
“I am deeply troubled to see the suffering and anguish that have sapped the native resilience and resourcefulness of the Land of the Cedars,” Pope Francis said of Lebanon.
While it is traditional for the Pope to mention countries when he reads out his Christmas messages every year, this time, he dedicated messages particularly to Lebanon and South Sudan for the hardships these countries have dealt with throughout 2020.
For Lebanon, these difficulties include an unprecedented economic crisis that has plunged a vast portion of society into poverty and continues to cause suffering as more people find themselves unable to keep up with the inflation and the deteriorating living conditions.
The Beirut Port explosion that ravaged the Lebanese capital on August 4th, killing around 200, injuring thousands, and displacing countless others, added to the woes of the crisis-hit country that was also suffering the repercussions of the pandemic.
In the message, Pope Francis also expressed his “affection for the beloved people of Lebanon, whom I hope to visit as soon as possible,” adding that he hoped the country could “stand apart from conflicts and regional tensions.”
In August, during his first General Audience since the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Pope declared a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon, shortly after its capital was struck by the deadly blast.