On Thursday, the Vatican held the anticipated ecumenical day of prayer for Lebanon, an event of unprecedented size for the Holy See since the pandemic started.
The religious event, called for by Pope Francis in May to pray for crisis-hit Lebanon alongside the country’s Christian leaders, was attended and covered live by more than 500 reporters.
According to British writer John Philips, Rome has not held such a large event since the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak put a halt to public gatherings over a year ago.
Not only that but the Vatican had never held such an event centered around a single country, Philips told the National News Agency on Friday, adding: “Lebanon is back to the forefront of world media.”
In addition to getting global live coverage, the prayer day made it to the front pages of Italian magazines and the headlines of TV and radio news broadcasts.
‘Lebanon Cannot Be Left Prey…’
Joined by 10 senior leaders of Lebanon’s various Christian Churches and communities, Pope Francis prayed for the Lebanese people’s relief from the dire situation enveloping their country, in a move that aims at reviving hope for the collapsing nation.
Apart from the prayers, the attendees had several closed-door meetings with the Pope, who concluded the day with an ecumenical prayer service and a speech. The closed-door talks discussed Lebanon’s crisis and potential solutions for it.
“Lebanon cannot be left prey to the course of events or those who pursue their own unscrupulous interests,” the Pope said during the event.
“It is a small yet great country, but even more, it is a universal message of peace and fraternity arising from the Middle East,” he added.
During the conclusive ecumenical speech, the Pope called upon Lebanon’s political leaders to find solutions, urging the international community to help.
Pope Francis had recently expressed interest in visiting Lebanon but not before a government is formed.