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    » 11/11/2007, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: St Martin, a global model of solidarity



    Benedict XVI asks the international community to build a world where there is food, medicine and work for all and where intellectual and energy resources are shared. A prayer for Lebanon, so that parties detach themselves from “personal interests” and show “true passion for the common good” as crucial presidential elections are delayed for a third time.

    Vatican City  (AsiaNews) – An appeal to Christians and to the world so that there is food, health care work, and culture for all; an appeal for Lebanon where tomorrow presidential elections were to have been held: these were the two main themes of Benedict XVI’s reflections during the Angelus held before thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s square.

    Beneath a cold and rain swept winter’s sky, the pontiff recalled that today the Church celebrates St Martin of Tours, the first person in the history of the Church to become a saint not because of a cruel martyrdom for the faith, but because he dedicated his life to evangelisation and charity.

    The Pope outlined the life of St Martin: “Born to a pagan family in Pannonia, modern day Hungary, around 316 his father destined him for a military career.  In his adolescence he encountered Christianity, and overcoming many obstacles he joined the catechumens to prepare himself for Baptism.  He received the sacrament in his early twenties, but was forced to remain in the army where he gave witness to his new way of life: respectful and understanding of all those he met; he treated his servant as a brother and avoided vulgar entertainment. On leaving the military he made his way to Poitiers, France, to the Bishop and Saint Ilarian. Ordained by deacon by him, he chose a monastic life and founded along with some disciples one of Europe’s oldest monasteries in Ligugé. Ten years later the Christians of Tours, deprived of a pastor declared him their Bishop.  From then on, Martin dedicated himself with ardent zeal to evangelising the rural countryside and formation of the clergy”.

    But above all Benedict XVI recalled the famous gesture of charity of the saint: his sharing of his cloak with a poor beggar “shriven and trembling with the cold”. “That night – continues the pope – Christ appeared to him in a dream, smiling and wearing that same cloak”.

    St Martin’s gesture clarified the pope, follows Christ’s logic, who multiplied bread for the starving crowds and gifted himself in the Eucharist.  This is why he became a model for the global community: “St Martin helps us to understand that only through a common commitment to sharing, can we answer to the great challenger of our time: that is to build a world of justice and peace, where every human being can live in dignity.  This can only happen if a global model of authentic solidarity prevails, capable of insuring that all of the worlds’ people have food, water, healthcare, but also work and recourse to energy as well as culture and scientific and technological knowledge”.

    Immediately after the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI recalled the current situation in Lebanon where tomorrow’s elections for the president of the republic were due to have been held.  Yesterday evening the vote was postponed for the third time to November 21, three days before current President Emile Lahoud’s mandate expires.  Tensions between pro-Syrian parties and the government and the divisions among Christian deputies (the president must be a Maronite Christian), have failed to bring consensus on a candidate and risk plummeting into all out civil war, fomented by Syria and pro-Iranian Palestinians.

    The pope recalled that the election of a head of state is a “crucial passage on which the very survival of Lebanon and its institutions depends”. And he added “I make the concerns recently expressed by the Maronite Patriarch, his Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, my own and I repeat his wish that all Lebanese may recognise themselves in the new President.  We appeal to the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, that she may inspire the interested parties to distance themselves from personal interests and to a true passion for the common good”.

     

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    See also

    12/11/2007 LEBANON
    Sfeir: if a president is not elected the nation risks annihilation
    Following the Pope’s appeal, the Patriarch recalls parliamentarians to their “national duty” and evokes a dark prospective. Contrasting voices regarding the cardinals convoking of Christian leaders and on the possibility he present a list of candidates.

    19/11/2007 LEBANON
    The week begins in a climate of distrust ahead of the crucial choice for Head of State
    Vetoes block the list of consensus candidates drawn up by the Patriarch Sfeir to succeed the current President of the Republic whose term ends on the 24th. International diplomacy is intensified.

    17/11/2007 LEBANON
    Presidential “War list” begins
    Maronite Patriarch Sfeir yesterday presented his list of candidates for the Presidential elections. Local press speculates on names, which could single out between 6 and 12 candidates. The UN invites “all Lebanese leaders to take on their responsibility”.

    31/10/2008 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Pope reminds President Suleiman of his "attention" to Lebanon
    The Holy See expresses its appreciation for the efforts of the country's leaders to return life in the nation back to normal. Hopes for a just and rapid solution to the Palestinian question.

    17/02/2008 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Pope: The Transfiguration and the way of the Cross. An appeal for Lebanon
    Benedict XVI asks politicians of the Lebanese nation to find the ways of reconciliation, and choose a head of state. At the reflection before the Angelus, he emphasises the Transfiguration, as an anticipation of the resurrection, which presupposes following Jesus on the way of the Cross.



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