Pope Francis encourages anti-corruption protesters in Lebanon 

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis Sunday encouraged protesters in Lebanon who have taken to the streets to challenge government corruption and mismanagement of finances. The pope’s message coincided with a series of protests taking place in countries around the world.

“I address a special thought to the beloved Lebanese people, in particular to the young people, who in recent days have made their cry heard in the face of challenges and the social and economic problems of the country,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Oct. 27.

Protests in Lebanon began Oct. 17 after the government announced a new tax on internet-based calls made over WhatsApp. Lebanon has high levels of public debt and low employment.

The peaceful protestors’ chants include “Revolution! Revolution!” and “All of them means all of them!” calling for the removal of all corrupt government officials.

Hezbollah supporters have attacked and injured the nonsectarian protestors, according to local Lebanese media, causing government riot police to intervene on Oct. 24 and 25.

“I urge everyone to seek the right solutions in the way of dialogue,” Pope Francis said.

“I pray, Virgin Mary, Queen of Lebanon, so that, with the support of the international community, that country will continue to be a space of peaceful coexistence and respect for the dignity and freedom of every person, for the benefit of the entire Middle East Region,” he said.

Protests also took place this week in Hong Kong, Iraq, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and India.

Pope Francis spoke out about the protests in Lebanon 11 days after they began.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy and free speech demonstrations have now entered their seventh month, drawing hundreds of thousands of people, and support from the local Catholic community, though the pope has yet to comment on the situation there.

At least 63 people have been killed in Iraq in the past two days of anti-government protests, according to the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights. In the first wave of protests earlier in October more than 150 people protesting corruption and unemployment  died in protests.

In Chile, officials said at least 18 people have died as protests against the country’s increasing cost of living and economic inequality turned violent, causing the Chilean president to declare a state of emergency on Oct. 19.

Protests across Ethiopia killed 16 people this week. In Egypt, more than 4,300 people have been arrested by government authorities since protests calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi began in September.

On Sunday, Pope Francis called for Catholics to continue to pray the rosary for peace, recalling that October is the month of the rosary and an extraordinary missionary month for the Church.

“I renew the invitation to pray the Rosary for the mission of the Church today, especially for missionaries who encounter great difficulties,” Pope Francis said.

The pope expressed his gratitude for the conclusion of the Oct. 6-27 Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian region, and said the Church must not remain indifferent to the difficulties in the region.

“The voices of the poor, together with those of many others inside and outside the synod assembly – pastors, young people, scientists – urge us not to remain indifferent,” he said.

“The cry of the poor, together with that of the earth, came to us from the Amazon. After these three weeks we can’t pretend not to have heard it,” Pope Francis said.

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