Pope Benedict XVI issued an appeal ahead of his Apostolic Voyage to Lebanon on Wednesday.
Listen: Speaking to pilgrims
gathered for his weekly General Audience, the Holy Father asked prayers for peace,
reconciliation and respect for the rights of all in the whole region. He had special
prayers for the Christian communities throught the Middle East, and called on the
faithful throughout the world to renew their solidarity with the Christians of the
entire region. Below, please find Vatican Radio's English translation.
pilgrims, at this hour two days from now, I will be flying to Lebanon. I look forward
to this Apostolic Journey. I will be meeting people from many different sectors of
Lebanese society: civil and ecclesiastical officials, faithful Catholics of different
rites, and other Christians, Muslims and Druze in the region. I thank the Lord for
this richness, which can only continue through lives lived in permanent peace and
reconciliation. This is why I urge all Christians in the Middle East, whether native
or newcomer, to be builders of peace and enactors of reconciliation. I ask God to
strengthen the faith of Christians in Lebanon and the whole Middle East region, and
to fill them with hope. I thank God for their presence and encourage the whole Church
to be in solidarity with them, so that the Christians of the region might continue
to bear witness to Christ in those blessed lands, by seeking communion in unity. I
thank God for all people and all the institutions, which, in many ways, help in this
direction. The history of the Middle East teaches us the important and often critical
role played by the various Christian communities in interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
I ask God to give this part of the world peace it so desires, in respect for legitimate
differences. God bless Lebanon and the Middle East! God bless you all!