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Pope, in Christmas Letter, Promises to Visit Lebanon

In a Christmas letter to the people of Lebanon, “without distinction of community or religion,” Pope Francis expressed pain for their “suffering and anguish,” and promised to visit as soon as possible.

“I am deeply troubled to see the suffering and anguish that has sapped the native resilience and resourcefulness of the Land of the Cedars. It is even more painful to see you deprived of your precious aspirations to live in peace and to continue being, for our time and our world, a message of freedom and a witness to harmonious coexistence,” Francis wrote.

More than half of Lebanon’s population lives in poverty. In addition, thousands are out of work due to the Beirut Port explosion in August.

In an appeal to the international community, the pope wrote: “Let us help Lebanon to stand apart from conflicts and regional tensions. Let us help Lebanon to surmount this grave crisis and resume a normal existence.”

The pope is scheduled to visit Iraq March 5-8.