BEIRUT: Church bells rang out in Lebanon Wednesday night as word spread that white smoke was billowing out of the Vatican chimney, signaling the election of a new pope.
While there were no public celebrations akin to those taking place in Rome, Catholics across the country welcomed the news, with worshippers in Batroun and Zghorta joining people in Beirut in ringing church bells.
The Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorius III Lahham urged the new pope to visit Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, and praised the pontiff on the basis of his meeting with him in his native country Argentina two years ago.
In the Beirut neighborhood of Gemmayzeh, Ziad Bsaibes, a 31-year-old banker, said he had a “good feeling” when heard the news, as he exited St. Maroun Church. Bsaibes went on to say he hoped the new pope would make the church stronger, and lend support to the Christians of the Middle East in particular.