09/04/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/04/2020 04:48
'Lebanon responds to the call of the Supreme Pontiff and remembers the souls of martyrs and wounded, while investigations are ongoing. Justice will be applied on all who are responsible and were negligent'.
Cardinal Paroling: 'Lebanon is not alone in this dire situation and it can rely on the Holy See. Lebanon constitutes a model which unites Christians and Muslims, and the Lebanese found the sources of power in themselves'.
President Michel Aoun asserted that 'One month after the disaster that befell Lebanon due to the Beirut Port explosion, Lebanon responds to the call of His Holiness Pope Francis to commemorate a day of prayer and fasting, and we will remember the souls of the martyrs who fell, the wounded who were injured and the citizens who lost their families, loved ones and livelihoods. We assure that investigations are ongoing and justice will be applied on everyone who is responsible or negligent, and this is the right of the Lebanese who were united by the disaster and gathered by hope'.
The President's stances came while receiving the Secretary of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, today at the Presidential Palace.
The Cardinal conveyed to the President a message of solidarity from pope Francis to the Lebanese people of all groups, 'In this painful circumstance which the country passes through after the Beirut Port explosion'. The message stressed that ' Lebanon has a special place in the Holy See and is a subject of care and attention, given the value it represents and the model for living together with all its children, Christians and Muslims'.
'Lebanon is never alone in this painful circumstance as it can always count on the Holy See's support as well as on international solidarity. I convey to you and the Lebanese a message of hope from the Supreme Pontiff, who considers that Lebanon possesses some of the international factors that make it rise from its pain, transforming this period of pain into a new stage of hope for the country and the region and for the world which stands next to Lebanon. Its centenary and first existence as a state gave a model to be followed as a formula uniting Christians and Muslims which requires a lot of balance between differences and diversity, despite the numerous crises it has overcome, but its people have always found in themselves the sources of their strength to emerge the crises and move forward. Today, the new hope that stems from Lebanon is a realistic matter and not only wishes to pass this stage' the letter stated.
Cardinal Parolin also said 'The role of the Holy See is to remain steadfast in standing by your side, as it has always been towards Lebanon, because it is a country worthy of life and survival, for what is good and advantageous for the Middle East and the world. Today's world needs an example and men who bear witness that is possible to live together, and this is something necessary and urgent, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall. You as Lebanese, Christians and Muslims, are giving this message to the world, because you embody it, without entering into regional and world conflicts'.
For his part, President Aoun thanked Cardinal Parolin for his visit, representing the Pontiff on this important visit to Lebanon , to commemorate the day of prayer and fasting for this country that Pope Francis called for all believers in the world. The President indicated that he and his family will participate in this day through a special afternoon prayer in the Capella of the Presidential Palace.
'I closely follow what Pope Francis says about Lebanon, and his special love for the country, and I would like to convey His Holiness our filial love for him, and our great gratitude for the care he attaches to Lebanon and its people in different groups, and this is not new for the Holy See which is linked to Lebanon and has a special relationship with the Lebanese' President Aoun said.
Then, President Aoun asked Cardinal Parolin to convey his renewed invitation to the Holy Father to visit Lebanon, noting that all the Lebanese are waiting for him.
The Cardinal welcomed President Aoun's initiative and confirmed that he will convey this wish to Pope Francis upon his return to the Vatican, pointing out that the Corona outbreak led to the cancellation of the Supreme Pontiff's 2020 visits. The Cardinal hoped that the matter will not be repeated in the next years.
Finally, President Aoun stressed that his efforts whether through the establishment of the 'Human Academy for Meeting and Dialogue' adopted by the UN, or the renewed calls for dialogue between Lebanese officials, aimed at confirming Lebanese role and mission and consolidating the foundations of convergence among all its citizens for a solid future.
Statement of Cardinal Parolin:
'I am pleased to express my gratitude at the outset, to His Excellency the President of the Lebanese Republic for the meeting on the occasion of my quick visit to Lebanon. I conveyed the greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who wanted my visit to be in order to express to this country and all its children, his closeness to them and his full solidarity after the huge explosion that shook Beirut a near month ago. Within the framework of this day, His Holiness wishes to express in a sensual and effective way the solidarity of the Catholic Church as a whole towards Lebanon and all its people, which is the aim of my presence today.
We have also talked about the general situation, and I conveyed to his Excellency the Holy See's assurance that Lebanon is not alone amid the difficult circumstances it is going through, and he received the support of many countries that rushed to provide him with a hand in order to rebuild the part of the capital that was destroyed as a result of the explosion.
The meeting was also an occasion to emphasize the importance the Holy See attaches to Lebanon, according to the most famous slogan that Pope Saint John Paul II said, 'Lebanon is more than a nation, it is a message' to live together in a peaceful way among the various components of its people. It is a very different country in terms of its components, but it affirms that living together is possible and is a duty.
And I told President Aoun what I considered important, that the Lebanese situation is not only important for the good and well-being of Lebanon, but also for the entire Middle East region that is going through a period of crises, difficulties and conflicts, as well as for the whole world. The challenge today is to live together despite being different from each other, and we encourage His Excellency the President and the countries of the region to move forward in this direction, while preserving Lebanon's distinct identity, while we celebrate this year the centenary of Greater Lebanon, with an emphasis on dialogue with all parties, because only through dialogue can we reach understanding and cooperation together, and provide a better future for the sons of this country.
I renew my thanks to His Excellency the President for this meeting, and my best wishes for this dear country'.
On the Vatican side, the meeting was attended by: The Pontifical Ambassador to Lebanon, Monsignor Joseph Spitry, Monsignor Ionot Stagac and the Special Secretary, Giuseppe Franconi.
On the Lebanese side: Foreign Affairs Minister, Charbel Wehbe, Former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, Director General of the Lebanese Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and Presidency Media Adviser, Mr. Rafic Chelala, attended the meeting.