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    » 09/16/2012, 00.00

    LEBANON - VATICAN

    Pope: May the Virgin Mary inspire and accompany Lebanon's Christians and Muslims



    In saying goodbye at the end of his visit, Benedict XVI thanked civil and religious authorities, with special thoughts for the Muslim community. The pope reiterated the importance of Muslim-Christian coexistence for the world.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) - "The Virgin Mary, venerated with devotion and tenderness by the faithful of the religious confessions here present, is a sure model for going forward in hope along the path of a lived and authentic brotherhood. Lebanon understood this well when, some time ago, she proclaimed 25 March as a holiday, thus allowing everyone to live more deeply their unity in serenity. May the Virgin Mary, whose ancient shrines are so numerous in your country, continue to accompany and inspire you!" Benedict XVI ended his last speech in Lebanon with this invocation to Our Lady on behalf of all Lebanese, Christians and Muslims.

    The pontiff said goodbye to President Michel Sleiman and other civil authorities, thanking them for their role in the visit's organisation. He also thanked the representatives of the region's Catholic Churches for welcoming him "as if Peter himself had come to you". Likewise, he did the same with the representatives of the Orthodox and Protestant Churches.

    He had a special farewell message for Muslims, for the "warmth and your affection" with which they welcomed him, and which he "compared to one of those renowned oriental spices which enriches the taste of food." Such "warmth and your affection [. . .] make me wish to return" to Lebanon.

    For Benedict XVI, the country and Christian-Muslim coexistence are an even more urgent message for the international community. "In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace."

    For the pontiff, the Bible best illustrates this unity. Indeed, when King Solomon planned to build the temple in Jerusalem, he called upon a Lebanese, Hiram of Tyre, to send cedar wood and furnishings, with garlands of sculpted flowers (cf 1 Kg 5:22; Kg 6:18).

    "Lebanon," Benedict XVI said, "was present in the sanctuary of God. May the Lebanon of today, and her inhabitants, also dwell in the sanctuary of God! May Lebanon continue to be a place where men and women can live in harmony and peace with each other, in order to give the world not only a witness to the presence of God, the primary theme of this past Synod, but also a witness to the communion between people, the second theme of the Synod, whatever their political, social, or religious standpoint."

    "I pray to God for Lebanon," the Holy Father noted, "that she may live in peace and courageously resist all that could destroy or undermine that peace. I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it. I hope that Lebanon will fortify the communion among all her inhabitants, whatever their community or religion, that she will resolutely reject all that could lead to disunity, and with determination choose brotherhood. These are blossoms pleasing to God, virtues that are possible and that merit consolidation by becoming more deeply rooted."

    In concluding, he added, "May God bless Lebanon and all the Lebanese! May he never cease to draw them to himself so as to offer them a share in his eternal life! May he fill them with his joy, his peace and his light! May God bless all the Middle East! Upon all of you, I affectionately invoke abundant divine blessings. « لِيُبَارِك الربُّ جميعَكُم » - God bless you all!"

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    See also

    03/01/2013 LEBANON
    Benedict XVI's trip to Lebanon, the highlight of 2012
    The year that just ended is full of lights and shadows. Connected to the war in Syria, the darkest one is the attack against Wissam el-Hassan. The pope's message of hope was a moment of "happiness and grace". Lebanon's glory is tied to the "cross" and its suffering. Christians and Muslims must make a joint effort.

    21/12/2010 VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
    Benedict XVI Reflects on the Middle East Synod
    In his address to the Roman Curia, the Pontiff underlined communion with the Orthodox, the richness of Eastern traditions and the urgent need to reject violence in the context of tension in the Middle East. A comment from the scholar of Islam Fr. Samir (Part One).

    10/12/2009 VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
    Fr. Samir: Disappearance of Churches of the Middle East, a tragedy for Christians and Muslims
    The Synod of the Churches in the Middle East called by the pope for October 2010, will seek to highlight their difficult external situation and many internal problems. The biggest plague is emigration, which erases the mission of Christians. If Christians disappear from the Middle East, it will also create problems for Islam.

    22/12/2010 VATICAN - MIDDLE EAST
    Benedict XVI and the Synod: dialogue and forgiveness in the face of violence
    The Pope spoke for the first time about «Christianophobia» and reiterated the fact that violence runs counter to God and counter to Reason. Islamic terrorism is ideological blindness. Gratitude for expressions of solidarity from the Muslim world. The path of the Church and the Synod is a path of dialogue and forgiveness: there can be no peace without justice and no justice without forgiveness. A comment from the scholar of Islam Fr. Samir (Part Two).

    19/01/2010 VATICAN-MIDDLE EAST
    Churches of the Middle East: witnesses of Jesus in a world with more shadows than lights
    The working document of the Synod for the Middle East outlines the situation of Christians in the region and their future prospects. Life in Muslim countries as non-citizens, and while political Islam is growing. The need for ecumenical dialogue. The difficulties of Christians living in Arab countries and relations with the Jewish world.



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