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» 09/14/2012
SYRIA - LEBANON - VATICAN
Nuncio in Damascus: Benedict XVI a beacon for the Middle East
Archbishop Mario Zenari hopes that the Pope's visit to Lebanon will encourage the international community, Syrian army and rebels to pursue the path of dialogue. The prayer of the Syrian Christians. But no Syrian bishop will be in Beirut. Situation in Aleppo and in the suburbs of Damascus increasingly dramatic.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - "The Pope's trip to Lebanon will be a beacon for the entire Middle East, especially for the Christians of Syria. I hope that the presence of the Pope encourages the international community to help both parties in conflict to lay down their arms and come to the negotiating table to end the carnage. " This is the hope of Msgr. Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Damascus, a few hours ahead of the visit of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, which begins today and ends September 16.

"The Pope - says Zenari - has been closely following the situation in Syria for months and has never ceased to raise his voice in public meetings. He knows what the Syrian Christians and their bishops want, who for more than a year trying to witness to peace in the country bent by sectarian and ethnic hatred. "

The Nuncio said that given the critical conditions in the country, most of the population are unaware of the visit, given poor access to newspapers and television. However, parishes and dioceses are doing everything possible to call the faithful to this important event. "The situation in Aleppo and Damascus in some areas is dramatic - says the prelate - there is fighting between rebels and the army in every corner of the country." The insecurity of roads and airports, used by Assad as to launch his warplanes and targeted by Free Syrian Army artillery, means the Syrian bishops cannot travel to greet the pontiff. "The bishops of Aleppo - says Zenari - sent a letter of welcome, where they explain their situation. But they will be there in prayer."

The apostolic visit to Lebanon will be the occasion for the signing and publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The first stage starts today at 13.45 with arrival at the airport and the speech before the authorities. At 18.00 the Pope will visit the Basilica of St Paul in Harissa to sign the Apostolic Exhortation. Tomorrow morning the presidential palace in Baabda, Benedict XVI will meet the main political authorities, including President Michel Suleiman and representatives of the Muslim religious community. The pontiff will dine with the Christian patriarchs of Lebanon. In the evening there will be the long-awaited meeting with young people in the square in front of the Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké. On September 16, the final day of the visit, in the morning the Pope will celebrate Mass for the delivery of the Apostolic Exhortation. In the afternoon there will be an ecumenical meeting in the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet, before leaving for the airport scheduled for 19.00 hours local time.

The pope's visit to Lebanon is on the same days of the visit to Syria by Lakhdar Brahimi, UN and the Arab League Special Envoy. After the failure of his predecessor Kofi Annan, Brahimi represents one of the last chances of finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict involving all parties involved.

Born of the March 2011 protests during the Arab Spring, the Syrian crisis has left more than 20 thousand dead and hundreds of thousands of displaced people, of which over 120 thousand have crossed the borders and found hospitality in refugee camps set up by governments and international organizations in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. (S.C.)

 

 


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See also
08/16/2012 MIDDLE EAST
Five Arab countries advise citizens to leave Lebanon for fear of "pro-Syrian" violence
03/26/2013 MIDDLE EAST
Rebels get Syria seat at the Arab League, but cracks appear
10/09/2009 MIDDLE EAST
Results of summit between Assad and Abdullah will take time
by Paul Dakiki
04/08/2007 VATICAN
Pope: even today the world awaits the Christian witness of the Resurrection
10/09/2009 MIDDLE EAST
Will it be another ‘Lost Century’ for the Arab World?
by Fady Noun

Editor's choices
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Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
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Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

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pp. 176
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