Pope Francis received President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon in audience today at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The Lebanese President also met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State who was accompanied by the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.
According to a communique released by the Holy See Press Office, the situation of the nation as well as the importance of dialogue and collaboration among ethnic and religious communities was discussed.
“Likewise, the common good, development, and the nation’s stability were also considered. In that regard, best wishes were expressed for the formation of a new government that will have to face the important challenges in the national arena as well as in the international sphere,” the communique stated.
Also discussed was the continuing conflict in Syria and the surrounding regions. Many Syrian refugees fleeing the violence have sought safety in Lebanon. The Holy Father and the president of Lebanon spoke on the need for “greater humanitarian assistance , with the help of the international community” for both the countries receiving the refugees and those who are suffering as a result of the conflict.
“At the same time, the desire for a rapid and beneficial resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, evermore necessary for the peace and stability of the region, was expressed,” the communique stated.
According to several journalists who were present at the meeting, President Sleiman had given the Pope a 19th century icon which the Pope showed the journalists present.