The Vatican focuses on the importance of historical relations with Lebanon, the "message", as described nearly 30 years ago by Pope John Paul II. Lebanon's ambassador to the Holy See, Farid Elias Al-Khazen, stresses that "ties between Lebanon and Rome date back to the twelfth century".
During the long historical period, there was no tension in the relations between Lebanon and the Vatican until after the Holy See made reservation on the appointment of Ambassador Johny Ibrahim to the Vatican. The issue was resolved after President Michel Aoun appointed former MP Farid Elias Al-Khazen as Lebanon's new ambassador to the Holy See.
The National News Agency correspondent in the Vatican met with Khazen who confirmed that "relations between Lebanon and the Holy See are undoubtedly good and solid. There is mutual keenness on consolidating them to become the best of relations. What distinguishes those bilateral ties is that the Vatican does not ask for anything in return for supporting Lebanon and standing by its side. It has no special interests, as other countries have."
Tackling common concerns, namely the problem of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Khazen said "the Vatican understands the specificity of the Lebanese situation and upholds the Lebanese position calling for finding solutions or mechanisms for the return of the displaced to Syria without having to wait indefinitely, ie, to find a political solution that may or may not emerge."
"In addition to the relations between the two countries, there is a direct and ongoing relationship between the Catholic Church in Lebanon and the Eastern Churches in the region with the Holy See," he said, adding that "there is strong interest by the Vatican in Syria and Iraq and an ongoing effort to support Christians and non-Christians targeted by terrorism."
"I want to shed light on a very important issue, concerning the words of His Holiness the late Pope John Paul II about Lebanon, when he said that it is a message as a country of freedom and pluralism. (...) Lebanon is, indeed, the only country that enjoys freedom and in which religions coexist spontaneously. This coexistence happens with full consent and is not imposed by the State," calling to translate the Pope's words into actions.
Khazen concluded his interview by saying: "An idea has been put forth to hold a conference that begins in Rome and moves to Lebanon on the occasion of the 30th commemoration of Pope John Paul II's speech about Lebanon," referring to President Aoun's initiative to render Lebanon a platform for interfaith dialogue by establishing the Humane Academy for Encounter and Dialogue. This has been strengthened by the conclusion of the document of human brotherhood for world peace and coexistence in Abu Dhabi."
Source: National News Agency