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Pope Francis meets with leaders of Lebanon's churches today at the Vatican


Pope Francis will meet today, Thursday, with ten prominent Lebanese Christian clerics, to discuss the difficult economic and political situation in their country, which he hopes to visit soon.


According to the swissinfo website, he will host them in the inn of Saint Martha in the Vatican, where the Pope himself resides, before participating in what he described as a "special day of prayer and meditation for Lebanon."


"I invite everyone to unite with us spiritually in prayer so that Lebanon rises from the grave crisis it is going through and once again shows its face, the face of peace and hope," the Pope wrote in a tweet on Wednesday.


The Pope has repeatedly prayed for Lebanon, which has been witnessing since the summer of 2019 an accelerating economic collapse, exacerbated by the explosion in the port of Beirut last August, which killed more than 200 people and destroyed entire parts of the city.


The Pope had previously expressed, on several occasions, his desire to visit Lebanon, which he described as "a model of pluralism in the East and West" and indicated that it faced challenges that "represent an existential threat to it."


Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, who holds the position of Foreign Minister of the Holy See, stated that the visit “could” take place at the end of 2021 or early 2022, preferably after the formation of a new government.


Maronite Bishop Samir Mazloum said that the meeting will focus on the migration of young people and the repercussions of the crisis on schools, hospitals, families and food security.


"50 to 60 percent of our youth live abroad, only the elderly and children remain," he said, pointing to the high rates of unemployment and the collapse of the value of the local currency.


Among the personalities who will attend the Vatican talks is Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, who spoke openly about the corruption of the political class in Lebanon.


Al-Rahi told the French-language Lebanese newspaper, L'Orient Le Jour, that the upcoming day with the Pope would represent "an important step towards helping Lebanon remain as a homeland of Christian-Muslim partnership."

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