(Vatican Radio) The forthcoming journey of the Pope to Lebanon is universally recognized as an act of great courage, and of hope. Benedict XVI will publish a document which will be of fundamental importance for the life and mission of the Catholic Church in the Middle East, for its witness to the Gospel, and its role in promoting dialogue and peace. The decision to make this journey to Lebanon, where the Catholic community is particularly numerous, was made before the situation in Syria had descended into open and bloody conflict. Although the conflict does not pertain directly to the Pope’s journey, it demonstrates that many of the difficulties which were addressed by the Middle Eastern Synod two years ago – people of different faiths and religious beliefs living together, dialogue with Islam and Judaism, the call for Christians to emigrate from the region, religious liberty and democracy – not only remain unresolved today, but they have become much worse. As for the rest, all the movements of the so-called “Arab Spring” had not yet intensified by the time the Middle Eastern bishops had returned to Rome. With the situation having changed so drastically, the Church’s mission within the region has become more urgently needed and more challenging, yet its presence – inspired and guided by the Pope – is all the more valued and desired. Catholics and Christians, who are in the minority, can and must be a witness of peace, and promote dialogue, not only among peoples and religious groups in the Middle East, but also to the international community: a world that seems to not recognize the tensions and geopolitical global atmosphere that are tragically represented by the region’s conflicts. Benedict XVI will call for hope, and express his desire for peace for the region. We hope that he is heard.