On Thursday morning, November 23, 2017, Pope Francis received the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutors Rai, in the Vatican.
The Lebanese Cardinal was received in Saudi Arabia wearing very visibly his pectoral cross, during his meeting with the Prince heir Mohamed bin Salman on November 13.
The visit was all the more important given the search for peace in Syria (with more than one million refugees in Lebanon), and the political crisis in Lebanon — last Sunday the Pontiff made an appeal in favor of Lebanon –, and the day after the visit of a Saudi Minister to the Vatican, even though Saudi Arabia does not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See but plays an important role in the Region.
“I renew to the International Community a grief-stricken appeal to make every effort possible to foster peace, in particular in the Middle East,” said the Pontiff on November 19, after the Angelus. The Pope also addressed “a special thought to the dear Lebanese people”: “I pray for the country’s stability so that it can continue to be a ‘message’ of respect and coexistence for the whole Region and for the entire world,” he said.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester