2012-08-30 Vatican RadioPope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon from September 14 to 16, 2012. During this time, the Pope will present to the heads of Churches and leaders of Christian communities the Apostolic Exhortation or concluding document following the Synod for the Middle East which took place in 2010.
His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem spoke to Vatican Radio ahead of the Holy Father’s visit:
“We anticipate this Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, in a special way,” said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. “It is a summary of what we wanted for our Synod.”
A Question of Identity
The Patriarch clarified, “It goes back to the idea of belonging to this land (Holy Land-Palestine). It is a matter of identity, of politics. (…) It is for us, pastors, and a few in the international community to be concerned for the presence of Christians.”’
When asked, the Patriarch did not conceal his disappointment regarding interreligious contacts: “There has not been much progress in the dialogue with the Jews, even if there are people of good will.” “Even during the feast of Ramadan, which presented a good opportunity for openness and dialogue to seek peace, did not prevent or minimize the rise of certain Muslim radicalism.”
What concerns the Patriarch most is probably the deplorable violence in Syria which has also focused international attention away from the ongoing tensions and difficulties in the Holy Land. “We expect the Pope’s message of encouragement.” The Patriarch concluded, “This is not a trip to Lebanon only that the Pope will make, but for the entire region. The seven Catholic Patriarchs will be there to discuss the situation as it is, even if we do not easily see an end to the violence in the Middle East.”