Minister: Pope postpones visit to Lebanon for health reasons

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Pope Francis said he wants to visit Lebanon

Pope Francis has postponed a planned visit to Lebanon next month for health reasons, a Lebanese Cabinet minister said.

Tourism minister Walid Nassar did not specify the ailment but the 85-year-old pope is known to be suffering from acute knee pain that has greatly curtailed his mobility.

He recently appeared in public using a wheelchair.

Mr Nassar initially told the Al-Markazia news agency that Lebanon was awaiting an official statement from the Vatican in this regard, attributing any postponement strictly to health reasons.

He said postponement of the visit, if it occurs, will not be for a long time and that preparations for the visit were going ahead normally.

He later told the official National News Agency that Lebanon has received a letter from the Vatican officially informing it of the decision to postpone the scheduled visit, adding that a new date for the visit will be announced “as soon as it is determined”.

The visit, planned for mid-June, was announced by the Lebanese president’s office last month but never confirmed by the Vatican.

Francis has held special prayers for Lebanon and has repeatedly said he plans to visit the small country experiencing an unprecedented economic meltdown began in October 2019.

Francis’ trip would be the first visit by a pope to the Mediterranean nation since 2012, when Benedict XVI paid a three-day visit.

Despite Francis’ knee problems, the Vatican has confirmed his visit to Congo and South Sudan in early July and Francis has said he hopes to visit Canada later that month.

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