(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.
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).
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
"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
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!"