The formation of a government in Lebanon after 13 months of political stalemate paves the way for a potential papal visit to the country.
Pope Francis previously said that he wanted to visit Lebanon once its leaders formed a government.
“His Holiness the pope will visit Lebanon but after a government is formed. And this is a message to the Lebanese, that we must form a government so that everyone can gather… to revive Lebanon with our friends,” Lebanese politician Saad Hariri said after a private meeting with the pope in April.
A Vatican official confirmed in June that the pope intended to visit Lebanon once it successfully formed a government, adding that the trip could take place next year.
Lebanon’s new prime minister faces the challenge of coming into power at a time when three-quarters of the population live in poverty and there are widespread shortages of medicine, fuel, and food.
The World Bank has described Lebanon’s financial situation as among the “most severe crisis episodes globally since the mid-19th century.”
It estimates that country’s real GDP contracted by more than 20% in 2020, with surging inflation and high unemployment.
Lebanon’s currency has plummeted in 2021. By June, the Lebanese pound had lost 90% of its value since October 2019.
In recent months, the state has only been able to provide electricity for less than two hours a day.
Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the leader of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholics, welcomed the formation of the new government when it was announced on Sept. 10.
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He wished the government success in carrying out reforms and improving the living conditions for all Lebanese people.
The Lebanese cardinal had been calling on the country’s political leaders for months to overcome partisan interests and form a government to help the country amid its economic crisis.
Other Maronite and Melkite bishops also recently issued a call to both religious and civil leaders convene a Conference of National Reconciliation and Forgiveness under the auspices of the United Nations and the Arab League.
Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, eparch of the Maronites in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, and Bishop Robert Rabbat, eparch of the Melkites in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania, issued a joint statement on Nov. 25 that said that they were seeking the full support of the Vatican for the conference initiative.
“Without reconciliation, there is no resurrection for the nation, and without forgiveness, there is no life and hope for a modern pluralistic society,” it said.
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