Vatican City, (VIS) - At the end of his general audience today, the Holy Father spoke of his forthcoming apostolic trip to Lebanon, where he is due to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
"At this hour in two days' time", he said, "I will be on a plane bound for Lebanon. I rejoice at this apostolic trip which will enable me to meet many members of Lebanese society: the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, Catholic faithful of various rites, other Christians, and the Muslims and Druze of the region. I thank the Lord for this rich variety, which will be able to continue only if people live in permanent peace and reconciliation. For this reason I exhort all Christians of the Middle East, both those born there and the newly arrived, to be builders of peace and architects of reconciliation. Let us pray to God that He may fortify the faith of Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East, and fill them with hope. I thank God for their presence and call upon the entire Church to show solidarity, that they may continue to bear witness to Christ in those blessed lands, seeking communion in unity. I thank God for all the individuals and institutions who, in many ways, help them to do so. The history of the Middle East teaches us the important and sometimes primordial role. played by the various Christian communities in inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue Let us ask God to give that region of the world its longed-for peace, and respect for legitimate differences. May God bless Lebanon and the Middle East. May God bless you".