On 1 July 2021 a Day for reflection and prayer for Lebanon was held in the Vatican on the theme “The Lord has plans for peace. Together for Lebanon”, attended by the leaders of the main Christian communities of Lebanon.
Joining the representatives of the Catholic communities – Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai; Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssef III Younan; Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi; Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarj; and Latin Apostolic Vicar Bishop Cesar Essayan – were the leaders of the other Churches and Ecclesial communities: Patriarch John X Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch; Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia); Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch; and Reverend Joseph Kassab, President of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon.
Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregatio for the Oriental Churches, together with Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with the States, and Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Secretary for General Affairs, participated as observers. The Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, moderated the discussion.
After a brief moment of prayer at the Altar of Confession, the guests of the Holy Father gathered in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace for three sessions of private consultations.
The day closed with an ecumenical prayer for peace held in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In his message concluding the prayer, the Holy Father condemned division among Christians: “As pastors, we have sought together to be guided by God’s light. It is in this light that we have seen our own lack of clarity: the mistakes we have made when we have not witnessed to the Gospel with coherence to the very end, the missed opportunities along the path of fraternity, reconciliation, and full unity”. The Holy Father continued, that Lebanon “is a universal message of peace and fraternity rising from the Middle East”, and that its vocation is “that of being a land of tolerance and pluralism, an oasis of fraternity where different religions and confessions meet, where different communities live together, putting the common good before individual interests”.
Photos © Servizio Fotografico | Vatican Media