Pope Francis resumed his routine of holding weekly hearings with the general public a month after undergoing bowel surgery, and in the highly anticipated appearance on Wednesday, he recalled the anniversary of the devastating explosion of the port of Beirut and expressed the desire to visit Lebanon.
After removing his face mask to protect himself from COVID-19, Francis walked unaided to the center stage of a Vatican auditorium. He smiled as he gestured towards visitors, before sitting down in an overstuffed chair and addressing several hundred pilgrims and tourists, who wore masks as part of the Vatican’s anti-pandemic measures for them. crowd situations.
Towards the end of an almost hour-long hearing, Francois spoke of the Beirut explosion, recalling the “victims, their families, the injured and all those who lost their homes and jobs” in the blast. .
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The Lebanese people, he said, were still “tired and disappointed” afterwards, a reference to the economic and political crises that rock the Middle Eastern nation on the Mediterranean Sea. François called on the international community to offer “concrete gestures” of aid to the Lebanese people and not “mere words”.
“My desire to visit you is great,” Francis said, adding that he “never tires of praying” for them.
Francis, 84, was hospitalized on July 4 in Rome for an operation in which part of his colon was removed. The Vatican said the surgery was necessitated by diverticular stenosis or a narrowing of the intestine.
On Wednesday, audience members applauded vigorously after he finished his opening remarks and after greeting each language group. After the Pope gave his final blessing to the attendees, he walked down the steps from the stage with the help of two assistants to greet some members of the audience, stopping for a selfie with a member of the audience.
“I hope the upcoming summer vacation will be a time of refreshment and spiritual renewal for you and your families,” Francis said in his written remarks.
Unlike previous pontiffs, who spent their summers in the Vatican vacation retreat in the cooler hills near Rome, or, in the case of John Paul II, who loved to vacation in the Italian Alps, Francis stays in the Vatican each summer.
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But during his pontificate, Wednesday’s audiences were suspended in July to give Francis extra time to rest during Rome’s hot summers. His hospitalization therefore did not interfere with his regular general hearing schedule.
While recovering in the hospital, Francis climbed onto a 10-story balcony to greet supporters. He still looks a little wan, but Francis has been in a good mood and has been clumsy at times in his traditional Sunday window appearances to the crowds in St. Peter’s Square.
His wish for a peaceful future for Lebanon echoed the sentiments he had expressed three days before his operation. On July 1, during a prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis insisted that Lebanon must remain a “land of tolerance and pluralism” as he welcomed the country’s Christian patriarchs to Vatican to pray for an end to the crises in this country.
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