Pope Francis said Thursday he was “greatly concerned” over the situation in Lebanon, which is mired in its worst social and economic crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
“When I think of Lebanon, I am greatly concerned for the crisis it is facing,” the pontiff said during a visit to the nearby island of Cyprus, at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia.
“I am sensitive to the sufferings of a people wearied and tested by violence and adversity,” the pope said at his first stop after landing on the eastern Mediterranean island.
“I carry in my prayer the desire for peace that rises from the heart of that country.”
Lebanon is grappling with its worst-ever financial and economic crisis, with nearly 80 percent of the population estimated to be living below the poverty line.
A foreign currency crunch, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement, has seen the Lebanese pound lose 90 percent of its black-market value against the US dollar since the crisis started in 2019.
The majority-Greek Orthodox Republic of Cyprus is home to roughly 7,000 adherents to the Maronite church, an ancient Eastern Catholic faith. About 1,000 Lebanese travelled to Cyprus for the papal visit, officials in the Maronite Church said.