Visit of the Vatican’s Second-in-Command: Beyond Pastoral Duties?
Thu 20 Jun 2024 - 11:55

“Lebanon Debate”

Political Writer

In difficult times of hardship and war, where both internal and external initiatives have failed, amid the absence of a clear pathway to political solutions, all eyes are set on the spiritual shepherd that supports Lebanon, the prominent Christian country of the Middle East. This country is now facing the threat of political downfall due to a financial collapse and is fighting against its presidential vacuum. Is it merely a coincidence that Vatican Secretary Cardinal Pietro Parolin's visit to Beirut coincides with the impasse in attempts to elect the President of the Republic? Did it happen against the backdrop of internal matters being suspended during a perilous hour of escalating war in the South?

Concerned sources within the church revealed to Lebanon Debate that the fuss surrounding the role of the Vatican in the Lebanese scene and its internal files does not align with the true reality and the underlying purpose of the Vatican envoy's visit. It is particularly notable that Cardinal Parolin's visit is of a pastoral nature, extended at the invitation of the Vatican's Order of Malta. He will preside over the annual mass and observe their projects. Additionally, Cardinal Parolin will meet with Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi during a luncheon held in his honor at the Patriarchal headquarters in Bkerki.

On his agenda, Cardinal Parolin’s visit will also address political matters. He is scheduled to visit Ain el-Tineh for a meeting with the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri. Additionally, he will head to the Grand Serail, where he will meet caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Furthermore, church sources stated that Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican’s second-in-command, will not visit Lebanon without arranging meetings with Lebanese officials.

Therefore, Cardinal Parolin's days in Beirut will carry an informal aspect, as his visit is not at the invitation of the Lebanese state but of a humanitarian organization. However, alongside his pastoral duties, he will be briefed on political developments, particularly regarding the presidential election.

During his visit to Bkerki, alongside pastoral meetings, discussions may include sect leaders and political figures, addressing Lebanese political issues such as the Presidency and UN Resolution 1701. These discussions will help assess the atmosphere among Lebanese parties. This reflects the Vatican's longstanding interest in Lebanon.

According to sources within the church, the Holy See maintains a quiet policy. He stays informed about the Lebanese situation through engagements with the European Union, Paris, and Washington. This diplomatic effort aims to stabilize Lebanon, particularly as international interventions have prevented the situation from getting worse.

In this context, the recent visit of French presidential envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian to the Vatican follows his recent trip to Lebanon.

Sources clarify that Le Drian delivered his report on Lebanon's current state during this visit to the Holy See. It should be noted that the Elysée will receive the same report.

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