Pope Benedict XVI ends Lebanon trip, urges interreligious harmony
“I will appeal to all of you to be peacemakers, wherever you find yourselves,” Benedict told several hundred thousand worshipers in an open-air seaside Mass, the culminating event of his trip. “In a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship.”
The pope’s visit, embraced by this nation’s diverse religious and ethnic groups, provided a pointed contrast to the turmoil that has been roiling the region. The pontiff arrived as the war in neighboring Syria raged and protesters angered about an anti-Muslim film made in the United States took to the streets of numerous Arab nations.
The 85-year-old pope, frail but seeming to possess a reserve of energy, has been met by enthusiastic crowds and received a warm reception from Muslim and Christian leaders. More than one-third of Lebanon’s population is Christian, the highest such proportion in the region.
Lebanon, a nation of 4 million, has lived in a sometimes uneasy peace since 1990, when its devastating civil war finally came to an end after 15 years of sectarian bloodshed. [more]