On the eve of the second anniversary of the Beirut port explosion, which occurred on August 4, 2020, Pope Francis encouraged Lebanon to “continue on the path of ‘rebirth'” at the end of the general audience on August 3, 2022. He expressed his wish to see the country of cedars remain faithful to its “vocation to be a land of peace and pluralism, where communities of different religions can live in fraternity.”
The pontiff had a special thought for the families of the 215 victims of this tragedy, and more broadly for his “dear Lebanese people.”
He prayed that “consoled by faith and comforted by justice and truth,” insisting that the latter “can never be hidden.” The government’s investigation has been strongly criticized within Lebanese society and has not yet been completed.
Pope Francis once again encouraged the international community to take part in the reconstruction of the country, which has been hit hard by an economic recession, amplified by a political impasse and a form of social disintegration.
The explosion in the port of Beirut, resulting from the accidental detonation of 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port, symbolically corresponds to the generalized crisis that is currently affecting the country of the Cedars.
The Pope’s message comes just days after strong tensions have arisen between Lebanon’s religious communities. The arrest of a Maronite bishop returning from Israel by members of Hezbollah sparked a heated dispute between the Maronite episcopate and the Shiite Islamist organization that holds much of the country.
Francis has repeatedly stated that he would like to visit Lebanon, and a planned trip in June was even cancelled due to the pontiff’s physical condition. In an interview with I.MEDIA, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher spoke of the Pope’s plan to travel in November during Pope Francis’ trip to Canada. He estimated that it would take place after the presidential election, which is scheduled to end President Michel Aoun’s term on October 31.