WITH THE POPE IN LEBANON14-16 SEPTEMBER 2012

Pope Benedict XVI's Journey to Lebanon

14-16 September 2012

Pope bids farewell to Lebanese on Sunday September 16 at Beirut airportBenedict XVI left Lebanon with a new appeal for peace in the Middle East. The Pope once again condemned the ferocity and hatred that invades people’s lives, sowing everywhere horror and death. He appealed to the international community and to the Arab countries to find “workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person”. And he addressed in particular Christians and Muslims, calling them to put an end to violence and war.

The culmination of the last day of the Pope's Visit was the Mass at which he presided on Sunday morning in Beirut for the consigning of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to the respresentatives of the Catholic community of the Middle East. Benedict XVI reminded them in particular that  “the vocation of the Church and of each Christian is to serve others, as the Lord himself did, freely and impartially”. A particular urgent task “in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction”. Hence the invitation to build “a fraternal society, for building fellowship”, becoming “servants of peace and reconciliation, so that all people can live in peace and with dignity”.

The Pope is anxious above all about Syria and the neighbouring countries. Where, he declared at the Angelus at the end of Mass, that “sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan”. Benedict XVI reaffirmed that “those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated”.  And he expressed the hope that the Lord would grant the Middle East “the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence”.  This is a goal which, the Pope thinks, will demand from everyone an authentic conversion “so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions”.

It is a commitment for which the Pope had already appealed on Saturday evening to the young people, whom he urged to “live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society”. He reasserted this concept on Sunday afternoon at the ecumenical meeting and in the evening broached the subject once again in his Farewell Discourse at the moment of his departure from Lebanon. Benedict XVI said regretfully goodbye to the country and with the hope that  it may “continue to be a place where men and women can live in harmony and peace with each other”.

L'Osservatore Romano, 18 September 2012