- Sep 20, 2020
Just weeks before Pope Francis is set to sign a new encyclical on human fraternity, the head of the Maronite Church is pointing to his own country of Lebanon as an example of how Christians and Muslims can peacefully live together.
Sister Marie Justine el Osta had just begun a spiritual retreat in a mountain convent 27 miles north of Beirut. Even in that remote location, the blast that rocked Lebanon’s capital Aug. 4 could be felt, like an earthquake.
Bringing a message of hope to Lebanon, a month after a double blast struck Beirut, Pope Francis’ closest collaborator assured the Lebanese: “You are not alone. The whole world supports you.”
It was a century ago on Sept. 1, 1920, that a French general, Henri Gouraud, stood on the porch of a Beirut palace surrounded by local politicians and religious leaders and declared the State of Greater Lebanon — the precursor of the modern state of Lebanon.
For the past decade, art collector Nabil Debs has been working on turning his 19th century ancestral home in a historic neighborhood of Beirut to a hotel and art gallery. He planned to open it to the public in mid-August.
More than 35 clerics representing the Catholic, Orthodox and Islamic faith traditions of Lebanon met in Brooklyn to pray for victims of a deadly explosion in Beirut and for an end to the decades of violence and instability in that country.