05/11/2008, 00.00
VATICAN - LEBANON

Benedict XVI, appeal for peace in Lebanon

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI today launched a strong appeal for the pacification of Lebanon, at the end of the recitation of the Regina Caeli.  The pontiff exhorted all Lebanese "to abandon all logic of aggressive opposition, which could lead their dear country toward irreparable damage".  In recent days, the Shiite militias of Hezbollah have occupied the streets of west Beirut in response to the attempt by the government of Fouad Siniora to dismantle their military force, parallel to the army.

The pontiff said that he has followed "with profound preoccupation, in recent days, the situation in Lebanon, where the stalemate of political initiative has been followed first by verbal violence and then by armed conflict, with many dead and injured".  The situation in Beirut is calmer now, although clashes and tension are being seen in Tripoli, in the north of the country.

"Dialogue, mutual understanding, and the search for reasonable compromise", the pope continued, "are the only means for restoring to Lebanon its institutions, and to the population the security necessary for a dignified daily life rich in hope for tomorrow".

Benedict XVI concluded with an invocation that Lebanon may respond "with courage to its vocation of being, for the Middle East and for the entire world, a sign of the real possibility of peaceful and constructive coexistence among men". Seventeen Christian and Muslim religious communities live together in Lebanon.  "The different communities that compose it", the pope recalled, citing the post-synodal exhortation A new hope for Lebanon (cf. no. 1), "are at the same time ' richness, originality, and difficulty.  But bringing Lebanon to life is a common task for all of its inhabitants'.  With Mary, the Virgin in prayer at Pentecost, we ask Almighty God for an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and harmony, who inspires in all thoughts of peace and reconciliation".

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