Although it appears that these are Lebanonese flags, these 56 people have come to St. Peter's Square from Californa, USA. They are from the Diocese of Our Lady of Lebanon and its roots are based in the Middle East.
Elias Zaidan is the bishop who leads this group of Maronite Catholics. Unlike the rest of the group, it is not his first time in Rome and he has already had the privilege to greet the Pope. It was a moment, he says, that left a lasting impression on him.
Bishop, Diocese Our Lady of Lebanon (USA)
"He is our leader, he is our father, he leads us to a safe harbor. He will lead the Church, loving her a merciful and loving manner. He addresses everyone very humbly and he has led by example, not only with his words.”
Although they are well-established in the United States, they cannot forget their roots, especially now with the refugee crisis and what is happening in Lebanon, where more than two million people, almost half the population, are refugees.
Bishop. Diocese Our Lady of Lebanon (USA)
"Imagine that the U.S. had the same percentage. There would be 150 million. What would happen? Lebanon has done it with a limited infrastructure and that has taken its toll and has limited its resources. It has taken its toll on Lebanon and its people. We hope and pray. We need peace in the Middle East. People should go home and leave Lebanon."
He does not want the Lebanese to be interpreted as selfish. They firmly believe the Pope's message on refugees is very positive, but they just wish that all countries would be equal partners in aid.