Michel Aoun, President of the Republic of Lebanon, will be received by Pope Francis in the Vatican on March 16, 2017, confirmed to Zenit the Vice-Director of the Holy See Press Office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero.
In the course of the visit, Michel Aoun will also meet with the Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, “Number 2” of the Vatican. The Maronite Christian President will also attend a Mass at Saint Maron’s church, the Maronite parish located at the center of Rome, indicated the National Information Agency (NNA), official organ of the Lebanese Ministry of Information.
The President’s visit, noted the agency, will be the first of a tour of Europe. Elected to the Presidency in October of 2016 after two years of vacancy, General Michel Aoun, 82, is known for the struggle he led against the Syrian presence in Lebanon, his rejection of the Taef agreements, his exile in France and his return in 2005. He was Commander of the Lebanese Army and intermediary Head of State (1988-1990).
After Independence in 1943, the Lebanese presidency is traditionally assured to a Maronite Christian. The Prime Minister is a Sunni Muslim, while the presidency of the Parliament goes to a Shi’ite Muslim.
When directing the Free Patriotic Movement, in 2007 Michel Aoun went to the Vatican to exchange ideas with Monsignor Dominique Mamberti, Holy See Secretary for Relations with States.