03/25/2020, 13.19
LEBANON - VATICAN
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'Around Mary', Lebanese Christians and Muslims join Pope to pray for end of epidemic

by Fady Noun

For Nagi el-Khoury, the global emergency is a call to unity and prayer. Some dioceses will ring the bells. The Adyan Foundation invites all the faithful to join the celebrations and light a candle on the balcony. A special thought for doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the country, Lebanese Christians and Muslims will today celebrate the Annunciation in private. The feast day was declared a common Islamic-Christian national holiday in 2010.

Secretary General Nagi el-Khoury, in charge of following the Islamic-Christian dossier for the President of the Republic, underlines in a statement that in the context of the global emergency, the call to unite "together around Mary" who animates the feast will be linked to the prayer of the "Our Father".

Lebanon has also accepted the appeal launched by Pope Francis to unite and pray today at noon.

The note specifies that the ceremony that characterizes this national holiday should take place, this year, also within the Parliament, after the commemorations at the Presidential Palace and the Grand Serail Palace.

At the end of the Angelus prayer last Sunday, recited in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to the ongoing health emergency Pope Francis said " In these trying days, while humanity trembles due to the threat of the pandemic, I would like to propose to all Christians that together we lift our voices towards Heaven. I invite all the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christian of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us."

The Pope then announced that he will preside at a moment of prayer on Friday 27 March, at 6 pm, on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, in front of the empty square. At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father also intends to impart an Urbi et Orbi blessing, to which the possibility of receiving the plenary indulgence will be linked.

Bells and candles on the windows

The nationwide quarantine throughout Lebanon, will prevent public ceremonies from taking place. Furthermore, the proposal to ring church bells at noon, following a similar initiative launched by the bishops of France, was not unanimously supported.

Some Maronite dioceses have accepted this suggestion and will thus characterize the celebration, which also coincides with the tenth anniversary of the enthronement of the patriarch Beshara Raï (2011).

The Greek Catholic Archbishop of Beirut Mgr. Georges Bacouni invited the priests of his diocese to ring the bells at noon and for five minutes, to recite the Our Father and a hymn to the mother of God, humanity's help against the pandemic.

In a message addressed to "Catholics and all the French", the bishops of France said: "Our country, along with many others, is going through a great test. The head of state invited us to leave our divisions aside and to live this time in fraternity. That is why we wanted this message, intended primarily for Catholics, to also be addressed to all our fellow citizens, without any distinction. We do it according to a spirit of humility, but with the certainty that the Christian faith has a specific mission in the world and that it must not shy away from it. We also think of all those who share our faith in God and the belief that he accompanies our lives. Finally, let us think of all those who do not believe but want solidarity and the spirit of sacrifice to grow among men [...]. We must accept that selfishness, individualism, the pursuit of profit, outrageous consumerism undermine our solidarity.

We have the right to hope - the prelates continue - that what we are experiencing at the moment will convince as many people as possible, that we should no longer postpone the necessary changes. Thus, this tragedy that causes anguish will not have been in vain. Almost everywhere in France, the bells of all the churches will ring for ten minutes, not to call the faithful back, but to demonstrate our brotherhood and our common hope. […] In response to this sign of hope, we invite all colors who wish to light candles in their windows ".

Adyan: "Together ... but at a distance"

Sensitive to this proposal, the Adyan Foundation under the banner of the original slogan "Together ... but at a distance" has invited the various faiths that wish to join the celebrations for the Annunciation and, lighting a candle on the balcony of their homes tonight at 19 and reciting a common plea, to ask God and the Virgin Mary to help Lebanon in this trial.

Among other media, Catholic TV today Télé-Lumière will broadcast one of the previous commemorative ceremonies for the Annunciation. In addition, the station will show interviews granted for the occasion by the general secretary of the association "Together around Mary" Nagi el-Khoury and one of its main founders, cheikh Mohammad Nokkari.

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