Today, Friday 14 September the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon will begin. These are the words spoken by the Holy Father on Sunday at the conclusion of the traditional recitation of the Angelus:
“I will have the happy opportunity to meet the Lebanese people and their authorities, in addition to the Christians in this dear country and those who have come from neighboring countries. I am not unaware of the situation, often dramatic, experienced by the peoples of this region that for too long has been tormented by incessant conflicts. I understand the anguish of the many people in the Middle East who on a daily basis are immersed in suffering of all types which sadly, and sometimes fatally, affects their personal and family lives. My heartfelt thoughts go to those who, seeking a measure of peace, are forced to leave behind their family and professional life and experience the precariousness of exile. Even though it may seem difficult to find solutions to the different problems affecting the region, one cannot allow oneself to become resigned to the violence and the worsening of tensions. The commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all of the parties involved, and it must be supported by the international community, which is increasingly aware of the importance for the entire world of a stable and durable peace throughout the region. My Apostolic Journey to Lebanon, and by extension to the whole of the Middle East, focuses on peace, repeating the words of Christ: ‘my peace I give to you’ (John 14:27). May God bless Lebanon and the Middle East. May God bless you all!”
During his visit to the Land of the Cedars, the Pope will sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, finalizing the work of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East held at the Vatican in October 2010.
We take this opportunity to remind all friends of the Holy Land that ATS pro Terra Sancta is also present in Lebanon, in support of the works that the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land are carrying out in the region, as well as in neighboring Syria, currently the scene of conflict and destruction. We thus join with the Holy Father in praying for the peoples of these countries, and in particular for those who bear the burden of insecurity and suffering.