On Wednesday, Pope Francis announced he was sending Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, to Beirut on Sep. 4 to mark the one-month anniversary of the blast in the Lebanese capital’s port that killed at least 180 people and injured 6,000 others.
The pontiff also said Friday would be a day of prayer by the entire Church for the people of Lebanon.
The Beirut-based head of the Jesuit Refugee Service for the Middle East and North Africa, Father Daniel Corrou, welcomed the visit by Parolin, noting that Francis quoted his predecessor Pope St. John Paul when he announced he was sending a representative to the city.
“Pope St. John Paul II would often use a line that is regularly quoted here: Lebanon is the message,” Corrou told Crux. “Lebanon is a place where peoples, minorities, can all live together and when they’re at their best, do so in harmony.”
“The idea of the global Church standing with the people of Lebanon is a way to acknowledge that minorities, whoever they are, all groups, can in did live together, deal with the inadequacies of one another and savor the goodness of one another,” Corrou said.
According to the American Jesuit, at a time when human kind is “driven apart” by so many forces “into little enclaves of identity politics,” the story of Lebanon is a deeply needed reminder that “we can in fact all live together.”
“And I think that why Pope Francis, and the Church, makes such a big point of the presence [of Christians] in Lebanon,” Corrou said. “I remember when Benedict XVI came for a visit in 2012 and signed a document on the Churches in the Middle East: His visit was a very clear reaffirmation of John Paul II and that there is something about Lebanon as an example.”
The priest added, “And I think this is something that would be resonant with Pope Francis’s message to Lebanon when Parolin gets here on Friday.”
Read more at Crux