2012-09-14 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Harry Hagopian is the Middle East Advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and has written extensively on the visits of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI to the region. An Armenian Catholic, who spent several years in Beirut during the latter stages of the civil war, he looks back at the memorable visit by Blessed Pope John Paul II to Lebanon in 1997. He spoke to Vatican Radio's Susy Hodges.
Listen to the extended interview with Harry Hagopian:
He says during the previous papal visit to Lebanon, the country was still carrying "the wounds" of its long and bitter civil war and many people were making comparisions between that 1997 papal visit to Lebanon and John Paul's first visit as Pope to his native Poland. Asked about the problem of the continuing emigration of Christians from the Middle East, Hagopian said "it's pretty much the number one problem" facing the Church in that region. He recalls the deep concern over this exodus of Christians when he was based in Beirut in the 1980's and said "if anything, it has deteriorated further" compared to then.
Turning to this papal visit, Hagopian says people are "thirsting for peace" and many have expressed the wish that Pope Benedict can be the "catalyst" for peace and dialogue in the Middle East.