Gallagher in Beirut in February to prepare for papal visit


A colloquium on “John Paul II and Lebanon” on February 2-3 offers the Holy See’s top diplomat a place to organize the trip, which could take place between the country’s legislative and presidential elections in May and October respectively , if stability and security are ensured.

06 Jan 2022

Di Fady Name
Cardinal Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, will travel to Lebanon in early February to prepare for a papal visit, according to various sources.

Card Gallagher will be at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), north of Beirut, where he will inaugurate a symposium on the theme “John Paul II and Lebanon” on February 2-3, 2022. The university is part of of the Lebanese Maronite Order. .

The Vatican diplomat will discuss with the country’s top officials the possibility of a pastoral visit to Lebanon by Pope Francis in 2022, a country in crisis that the Supreme Pontiff has repeatedly said he wants to visit.

During his 26 years of reign (1978-2005), the “great pope” John Paul II called Lebanon “more than a country, a message of pluralism and tolerance for East and West. ”, In an appeal launched to bishops around the world on September 7, 1989.

Overused and faded, the Lebanon slogan as a message has lost its depth and impact. To regain its power, the Vatican, the Ambassador of Lebanon to the Holy See Farid el-Khazen and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik are jointly organizing a conference centered on “John Paul II and Lebanon” on 2-3 February on the USEK campus with Card Paul Gallagher as guest of honor.

The idea for the symposium dates back to 2020, Ambassador Farid el-Khazen said. The initial goal was to mark the 25th anniversary of the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops consecrated in Lebanon (1995) and the visit of John Paul II to Lebanon in May 1997 to deliver the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to the Church. local.

The commemoration has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but, barring any surprises, the symposium will take place next month.

As for a possible papal visit to Lebanon, a reliable source suggests that if it is to take place, it will be between the two Lebanese elections scheduled for this year, namely the legislative elections in May and the presidential election in October, if the conditions for political and security stability to be respected. “Now it’s up to the Lebanese to decide,” the source added.

The colloquium itself will begin with a look at the past, followed by sessions devoted to Islamic-Christian relations, living together, education, culture and freedoms, to end with the document on human fraternity. in Abu Dhabi (2019) and the historical vocation of Lebanon. The meeting will be held on the sidelines of any political news, in particular the proposal of the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi for Lebanese neutrality.

For the Lebanese Ambassador to the Holy See, it is the spirit rather than the letter of “living together” that will be at the heart of the conference, where “living together” is based on the notions of “equality. civic and cultural community ”, as Card Jean-Marie Lustiger, then Archbishop of Paris, defines it. John Paul II sent Card Lustiger to Lebanon in April 2000.

“But it’s not just about words,” the diplomat said. While admitting that without an effort from the international community in the current geopolitical context, Lebanon will not be able to regain its freedom of decision, he believes that the Lebanese must still “fulfill their own duties at home”.

They should remember that during his visit to Lebanon, John Paul II said: “Lebanese, you ask me for miracles; it’s up to you to accomplish them.

The importance given by John Paul II to the Lebanese model has not changed, despite significant developments since the 1990s, the ambassador stressed.

Pope Francis has followed in his predecessor’s footsteps, visiting the Holy Land, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and, finally, Iraq last year, ahead of the ecumenical day of prayer on July 1, 2021 at the Vatican, in to which the heads of the Eastern Churches were invited.

Echoing the three key words of John Paul II’s formula, “message, tolerance and pluralism”, Pope Francis closed the meeting by saying that Lebanon was “a universal message of peace and brotherhood born from the Middle East “Whose” vocation is to be a land of tolerance and pluralism, an oasis of fraternity where different religions and denominations meet, where different communities live together, putting the common good before their individual interests.

It is a blow to a country in crisis, constantly seeking how to transform its rich and complex identity into viable institutions.–Asia News


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