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Vatican accuses Lebanese politicians of benefiting from country’s financial crisis

Rather than take responsibility, the politicians all keep saying they are doing their best to rescue the economy.

• February 1, 2022
Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher

A Vatican envoy on Tuesday criticised Lebanon’s politicians and called for an end to “the few profiting, and many suffering” in a financial crisis which has plunged the bulk of the country into poverty.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher’s remarks came one week after the World Bank blasted Lebanon’s ruling class for “orchestrating” one of the world’s worst national economic depressions due to their exploitative grip on resources.

“Let there be an end to the few profiting of the suffering of many. No more letting half-truth continue to frustrate people’s aspirations,” the archbishop said.

Lebanon was suffering a financial crisis that began in 2019 when its financial system collapsed under colossal state debts.

While politicians have acknowledged that corruption exists in Lebanon, none have taken individual responsibility, saying they are doing their best to rescue the economy.

The archbishop also warned against outside interference in Lebanon’s affairs saying “stop using Lebanon and the Middle East for outside interest and profit.”

While he did not mention Iran-backed Hezbollah, his words came as Lebanon was trying to thaw ties with Gulf countries which once spent billions of dollars in Lebanon but have pulled away due to the Shi’ite Muslim group’s powerful influence in the country’s politics.

Hezbollah holds the majority in the parliament, has a militia more powerful than Lebanon’s army, and supports Iran in its regional struggle for influence with U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states.

Gulf Arab states said the group has aided the Iran-aligned Houthis who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Lebanon’s most senior Christian cleric, Maronite patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, was a critic of Hezbollah, saying it has harmed Lebanon by dragging it into regional conflicts.

Archbishop Gallagher after meeting with President Michel Aoun, a Christian ally to Hezbollah, at the presidential palace in Baabda said “the Lebanese people must be given the opportunity to be the architects for a better future in their land without undue interference.”

He added that Pope Francis would like to visit Lebanon soon.

(Reuters/NAN)

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