By Emily Drooby
While standing in Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral in Brooklyn Heights, Father Dominique Hanna prays for his former home – Lebanon. The country is in crisis.
On July 1, Pope Francis met with Lebanese Christian leaders at the Vatican. The visit and prayers was one that inspired hope.
“It makes me feel like the pope cares a lot for Lebanon and he cares for the Christians of Lebanon,” Father Hanna explained.
Lebanon is going through a severe economic crisis that started in 2019. The turmoil has worried many with loved ones who still live in the country.
“Now it’s a freefall economically,” explained Rabih Nemr, a parishioner from Our Lady of Lebanon in Brooklyn. “Apparently it’s the worst crisis. They’re saying since the 1800’s.”
Inflation is through the roof following government corruption since the end of the civil war in the country.
“If you have a family of four, a year ago, making $100 a month in Lebanon, they’re making $10 a month today, and that’s not because they’re not working, it’s because of the tragic decisions of the government, or lack of government,” explained Bishop Gregory Mansour.
Bishop Mansour is the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. The bishop just got back from a trip to Lebanon where he saw the crisis first-hand. Other events have only made the situation worse, like the pandemic and the 2020 massive explosion in Beirut that killed 190 people, left 300,000 more homeless and caused billions in damage.
A country that needs support is what makes this summit so powerful to Lebanese people around the world including in Brooklyn.
In Rome, it was a day of prayer, reflection, and discussions. Pope Francis met behind closed doors with the leaders who represented various denominations and churches.
Together they discussed the crisis and how religion can help. Providing help is crucial, says the bishop.
“If we lose the special nature of Lebanon, the Christian, Muslim conviviality, we can forget about Christians in the Middle East,” Bishop Mansour explained.
The day concluded as Pope Francis and the 10 leaders gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica to pray for Lebanon. In the holy basilica is where the pontiff urged the leaders of Lebanon to put aside partisan interests and work for stability and peace.