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Lebanon’s ‘message of coexistence’ must be preserved, says nuncio

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, center, visits a hospitalised victim of the twin suicide bombings in Beirut (CNS photo/courtesy Mission of Life, Lebanon)

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican nuncio to Lebanon, said the country’s “message of coexistence” needs to be preserved, despite the crises it is enduring.

The Italian-born cleric made the statement after visiting hospitalised victims of last week’s twin suicide bombings in Beirut.

The November 12 bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs killed at least 46 people and wounded more than 200. The attacks, for which ISIS claimed credit, occurred a day before the terror attacks in Paris.

“We came here today to express our friendship and brotherhood to the injured in Beirut’s bombing,” Archbishop Caccia said on Monday, while visiting the wounded, all of them Muslim, in two hospitals.

The tour was part of an outreach of union and solidarity with those injured in the attack, organized by the Lebanese religious order Mission de Vie (Mission of Life), devoted to serving the poorest of the poor in Lebanon.

The nuncio was accompanied by Maronite Archbishop Paul Matar of Beirut; Fr Wissam Maalouf, founder and superior of Mission of Life; men and women religious members of the order as well as volunteers.

“God loves tolerance, and he is bigger than any desire for vengeance,” Archbishop Caccia said during the visit. “Lebanon’s message of diversity should be preserved” and it should prevail “despite all crises.”

The nuncio said Pope Francis “is close to all the oppressed and the needy in the world.”

Mission of Life missionaries are easily recognized throughout Lebanon by their royal blue habits, with volunteers wearing T-shirts in the same color, affixed with the order’s logo depicting helping hands. Archbishop Caccia recently participated in one the group’s street missions.

Visiting the victims in a hospital, Father Maalouf said: “Faced with the evil and injustice affecting our country, we are called to spread the culture of love and nonviolence. Thus, we can overcome all barriers and deal with any injustice.”