TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai will head to the Vatican Wednesday for talks with Pope Francis on the Christian sufferings in the Middle East and the Lebanese presidential election stalemate.
A source close to Diman, the summer seat of the Maronite Church in north Lebanon, told The Daily Star that the meeting between Rai and the pope, which will take place Thursday, would focus on the exodus of Christians from Iraq and Syria.
The source said Rai would also discuss the 3-month-old presidential stalemate. Lebanon has been without a head of state since former President Michel Sleiman’s term ended May 25, with lawmakers failing to elect a successor due to lack of consensus.
Rai will also meet a number of bishops during his weeklong stay in the Vatican, the source added.
During his visit last week to Irbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Rai urged the international community to help Iraq’s minorities, asking the country’s Christians to hold onto their roots and not leave the country.