Pope Benedict XVI said he had gone to Lebanon and to the Middle East as a “pilgrim of peace”. Over the next three days, he would return to the same theme of peace in the troubled region in every speech he delivered.
President of Caritas Lebanon Father Simon Faddoul, reflecting on the visit, said, “The Pope was a messenger of peace to an area that is in a state of continuous war. His presence in Lebanon could bring conflicting parties closer.”
The Pope came to deliver the Apostolic Exhortation – the fruit of the Synod for the Middle East.
“In this Exhortation, the Pope invites the Christians to act as citizens of the land by living out their citizenship fully,” said Fr Faddoul. “And invites the Muslims to accept differences in multi-religious societies.”
The pope’s visit served as a showcase for Lebanon, which for years was a model of peaceful coexistence and religious freedom in the Middle East.
The show of enthusiasm for the Pope across sectarian and political lines, in a nation still recovering from the 1975-90 civil war, was a dramatic statement of unity to the outside world and to the Lebanese themselves.
“His visit to Lebanon means a lot to the Christians of the area whose number amounts to around 17 millions. It boosts their morale and will make them feel looked after by their ultimate head of the Church,” said Fr Faddoul. “He conveyed a message of love, peace and reconciliation to non-Christians on one hand, and a call to unification and working together for all Christians so their witness will be one of communion and love.
The pope twice the deplored the human cost of the civil war in neighboring Syria. At a Mass on the last day, he said, “Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children.”
“His presence gave true witness to God’s love in front of millions of non-Christians and Christians alike,” said Fr Faddoul.
100 Caritas Lebanon’s young volunteers participating at Youth Meeting in Bkerke with Pope Benedict over the weekend trip and 27 young Caritas volunteers serving at mass on Sunday in Beirut.
Source: Caritas lebanon and CNS