Preparing the Way of the LORD

Pope Benedict calls for peace as the region prepares for war

Pope Benedict is in Lebanon calling for peace as the region p[repares for war. When this war comes it will be savage and bloody.  Israel says that they will destroy much of Lebanon and that the damage will be “far worse” than the last time around.

That and the bloodshed in Syria, Gaza and Iran; and the destruction to Israelis will contrast sharply with Nenedict’s peace message and suffering peoples weary of war will be looking for a peace maker and moral guide.

Cardinal Bertone is working very hard to establish the Vatican as that moral guide and peace making entity 

Debka reports that the US puppet governments put in place by the American created and controlled Arab Spring are under attack by Radical Islam.

“After firing up Arab and some Muslim streets, this radical coalition believes its component organizations are gathering enough leverage to start pushing out the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood branches brought to power by the US-backed Arab Spring in order to take their place”

This means that the battle between the radical mostly Shia Islamists backed by Syria and Iran, and the US Sunni puppet governments in the region, has begun in earnest. At some point this will escalate into a broad regional conflagration as this radical uprising has been orchestrated by Iran / Syria to take pressure of themselves in the region.

One of the reasons for the long delayed foreign intervention in Syria is to allow the Alawites and the Al Qaeda to destroy each other. The US is using Al Qaeda to destroy Syria and thousands of Al Qaeda encouraged and paid by US proxies are involved in the struggle.  Many people know this and are calling the US hypocritical for using Al Qaeda when they are supposed to be fighting them. It is very important to understand the larger game. America is clashing Al Qaeda and the Syria Shia Alawites against each other and grinding them both down before actively and openly intervening in Syria.

The US planned and created Arab Spring had the defeat of Islamic Radicals and a new Middle East as their ultimate goal in the geopolitical push against the coming Asian rise to dominance.

The Anglo Judeo Americans will defeat Radical Islam and effect regime change in Syria / Iran and will bring a Mideast peace agreement. Then a new Europe will rise, at the call of a miracle working Pope who appears as a great man of peace and man of God.  the new federal Europe based on the Holy Roman REmpire system will then take over and continue to rub against the rising Asia eventually going to war against the east as the scriptures make plain.


Young people of Lebanon to meet Pope

2012-09-15 Vatican Radio

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday evening was scheduled to meet with young people in the square across from the Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké, on the second day of his three-day trip to Lebanon.

The gathering will bring to together young Christians from the various Catholic Rites in the country, as well as those from non-Catholic traditions.

This visit is a sign for everybody here in the region that are afraid regarding the Christian situation in the whole region…the emigration of Christians, the whole situation around in Syria and Iraq and everywhere,” said Sabine Soueidy, the choir director and musical coordinator for the event. “The Pope visit by itself is something really, really…it was unexpected because everybody was saying it would be cancelled, and it is a very hard situation to come here.”

She said some Muslim young people will also attend the event.

“The most beautiful is it that the Muslim society here in Lebanon is insisting as much as the Christian society to have the Pope here, to tell everybody that the Pope is here for peace, to bring a message full of hope, of life, of joy, and of peace for the whole region, and especially for Lebanon,” Soueidy told Vatican Radio.
“As John Paul II said, Lebanon is a message for the whole world; it is not only a country,” she said.


Lombardi: Pope a pilgrim of peace in Lebanon

2012-09-15 Vatican Radio

 (Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See’s Press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi says the message of Pope Benedict’s visit to Lebanon is his very presence here. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Tracey McClure Fr. Lombardi spoke of the aims, hopes, and expectations surrounding the Holy Father’s pastoral journey, the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente in a moment of turmoil for the Middle East. He asked whether the Apostolic Exhortation might mark the beginning of a “Christian Spring” of reconciliation and unity?

Q: There are very big expectations for this visit which comes at a dramatic time for the Middle East and coincides with a series of terrible anniversaries which we are remembering in these days. Why was this weekend chosen for the papal visit? The Pope himself must feel the weight and importance of this trip…

Father Lombardi: Yes, I think that in this region practically every day or every time of the year has anniversaries that are not happy ones. In this sense, I think that this situation is a situation that requires courage and hope and witness of hope. The Pope will be a pilgrim of peace, a friend of all the men and women of this region, a friend of God, that brings the friendship of god to all and exactly in this situation , I think for this trip in particular, the message of the trip is the presence of the pope – not only what he says – maybe more than what he says: his being with the people in this time, in this land.

Q: In his discourse Friday evening at the signing of the Apostolic Exhortation, the Pope repeatedly spoke of the desperation and suffering of Christians in this region – many of whom experience what he described as “grave human and material difficulties and live in fear – who desire to follow Christ but are often prevented from doing so.” He chose to say these things in Lebanon where, despite isolated but disturbing events in recent days, Christians and Muslims live side by side today in relative harmony. Does the Pope have a special message to offer to other faiths in the region?

Lombardi: “First of all I would say this day in which the Pope signed the Exhortation is the day of the Cross, the glory of the Cross of Christ. This means that through the Cross we go to the Resurrection. The cross is for the Christian is not a sign of desperation but a sign of hope and of love. And then in this sense the pope in his speech has not only spoken of suffering but also of the meaning of this suffering , of the possible value of this suffering to build in love a better world and a new situation. (What’s more), the Pope speaks as a religious leader. He says if we believe in God, God is the foundation of love, brotherhood among all women and men of the world and in this sense he is strongly against fundamentalism that brings the religions one against the other. On the contrary, to be religious, to believe in God means to go toward unity, towards dialogue and brotherhood among all and this was very clear in what the pope said today and is fundamental also in what the (Second) Vatican Council says to us is the common heritage of the big religions in the world Christian and Muslim and also Jews we have not to forget in this region.

Q. Just weeks after the Synod for the Middle East ended in Rome, the first revolutions of the Arab Spring began to sweep across the region. The Apostolic Exhortation, what the Pope calls a “roadmap” for Christians, concluded that synod. Was there ever a doubt that it might not be relevant to today’s Middle East?

Lombardi: Obviously the atmosphere has changed from the time of the celebration of the Assembly of the Synod because the Arab Spring was not yet going on. And now we see a series of problems of a new situation aroused in this region. But the fundament of the exhortation is the Christian witness, that is, we have to be Christian, Catholic, in our time. And, in this sense, the situation can change, but the message of the faith, the fundament of love, hope, dialogue, service of the order of the common good in the society, engagement for all the people that are poor and in difficult situations. These are common principles that are always valid. And then, in this sense, also in this new situation, maybe that this Christian witness is really more necessary.
Q. Some, like Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai have said it’s time for a Christian spring. Does the exhortation in some way mark a beginning, and what is it likely to mean for Christians and Muslims through the reason.

Lombardi: I think (it is ) an inspiring word from Patriarch Beshara Boutros al-Rai because it is true that the exhortation desires to give encouragement, inspiration for the Christians, that may be for some time are suffering and think they have to go away because the situation is too difficult for them. And then, to encourage them to begin here anew, with the solidarity of the Universal Church. To be here is an active, a positive element of the future of their plans . This is a very engaging perspective. If they succeed in doing this, the world will see. But obviously this is one of the intentions of the document.


Pope: If we want peace, defend life!

2012-09-15 Vatican Radio

Continuing his Apostolic Voyage to Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday travelled to the Presidential Palace in Baabda for a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman. After private meetings with the President and other political leaders, Pope Benedict addressed a public gathering of civil and religious leaders of Lebanon.

In his address, the Holy Father said God had chosen these lands “to be an example, to bear witness before the world that every man and woman has the possibility of concretely realizing his or her longing for peace and reconciliation.”

But, he said, peace depends upon a profound respect for the dignity of life: “The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life.
“If we want peace, let us defend life!”

The Pope explained, “The unconditional acknowledgment of the dignity of every human being, of each one of us, and of the sacredness of human life, is linked to our responsibility which we all have before God.”
In the task of building peace, Pope Benedict said, “Lebanon is called, now more than ever, to be an example.”
He invited those present, “to testify with courage, in season and out of season, wherever you find yourselves, that God wants peace, that God entrusts peace to us.”


Pope meets with President of Lebanon
 2012-09-15 Vatican Radio
 (Vatican Radio) Tracey MClure reports on Pope Benedict XVI’s courtesy visit on the morning of Saturday 15th of September to the President of Lebanon, Michel Sleiman who received him at the Baabda Presidential Palace in Beirut. Among those present were Representatives of the Parliamentary, Governmental, Institutional and Political Authorities of this Middle Eastern nation.

This is a country in festival: tens of thousands of flag waving Lebanese lined the streets north of Beirut to see the Pope driving by in the pope mobile. And on the final stretch up to the presidential palace: an equestrian parade, traditional Lebanese dancers and maidens throwing rice to celebrate the Pope’s arrival. In the gardens of the presidential palace with Lebanon’s Christian President Michel Sleiman, Pope Benedict planted a sapling Lebanese cedar, the national symbol of this country and a symbol we’ll see as backdrop to Sunday’s big outdoor mass on the Beirut waterfront.

The President called Friday’s meeting historically important, coming at a decisive moment for the region. Describing Lebanon as a land where coexistence is not imposed on the population but is part of the Lebanese identity, President Sleiman offered it as a prototype for others to emulate. In his discourse, Pope Benedict drew on the image of the cedar as embodying the hopes of the Lebanese people and all the peoples of the Middle East whose region, he said, “seems to endure interminable birth pangs.” And like the cedar, this region requires care to grow to fullness.

He called Mankind one great family that we’re all responsible for. Peace, society, human dignity, the family, dialogue and solidarity, he affirmed, form the core of coexistence and peace. And these turbulent lands can become an example to the world that peace and reconciliation are possible. The first school of peace, the Pope said, is found in the family. And if we fail to defend life, how can we not reject war, terrorism and assaults on innocent life? “The destruction of a single human life,” the Pope said, “ is a loss for humanity as a whole.”

Some ideologies undermine the foundations of society, the Pope charged, by “directly or indirectly” questioning “the inalienable value of each person…and the family” “We need to be conscious of these attacks on our efforts to build harmonious coexistence” the Pope said, and challenge them by acting in solidarity with others.

That means peace needs to be taught at every level from the home, to schools, churches and mosques and the places of power. Peace, therefore, must be in our thoughts, words and acts. Calling people to a conversion of hearts and the rediscovery of “the profound meaning of justice and common good”, the Pope said “Evil, the devil, works… through human freedom” and distorts love of neighbor, “yielding to falsehood, envy, hatred and death.”

“Rejecting revenge, acknowledging one’s faults, accepting apologies…and forgiveness” may be quite demanding, the Pope acknowledged, but “only forgiveness can lay lasting foundations for reconciliation and universal peace.” Describing armed conflict and war in some places as “full of futility and horror,” the Pope noted that other countries also suffer from “assaults on the integrity and lives” of people – such as unemployment, poverty, corruption, addiction, exploitation, trafficking and terrorism which not only cause “unacceptable suffering” but also drain human potential. Society must also beware of the risk of being “enslaved by an economic and financial mindset which subordinate ‘being’ to ‘having’.”

And in Lebanon, home to 18 different faith communities, the Pope said “Christianity and Islam have lived side by side for centuries.” “It’s not uncommon,” he said, “to find the two religions within the same family. If this is possible,” the Pope asked, “why should it not be possible at the level of the whole of society?” Noting the centuries-old mix of cultures in the Middle East, the Pope lamented the fact that it was also sadly true that they have fought one another. “A pluralistic society can only exist on the basis of mutual respect, the desire to know the other and continuous dialogue” he said. And for such dialogue to take place, people must be conscious of the values all great cultures share because they are rooted in the human person.

Calling religious freedom “the basic right on which many other rights depend,” the Holy Father said “The freedom to profess and practice one’s religion without danger to life and liberty must be possible to everyone.” In concluding, the Holy Father said all these reflections can and must be lived out. In this context, Lebanon he stressed, “is called now, more than ever, to be an example.” And he called on politicians, diplomats, religious leaders and society “to testify with courage that God wants peace” and is entrusting it to all of us.
In Lebanon with the Pope Benedict, I’m Tracey McClure


2012-09-14 Vatican Radio
Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”

(Vatican Radio) In Beirut Friday evening, Pope Benedict XVI signed the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”. The document was elaborated by the Pope and based on the 44 final Propositions of the special Synod for the Middle East which was held in the Vatican in 2010. Seàn-Patrick Lovett tells us what it’s about:

“The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” is the document elaborated by Benedict XVI based on the 44 final Propositions of the special Synod for the Middle East, which was held in Vatican City from October 10th to 26th 2010 on the theme The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness. “The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4.32).
In the introduction, the Pope invites the Catholic Church in the Middle East to revive communion, to seek dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and to promote the rites of the Eastern Churches.The first part of the document focuses on the contribution of Christians who live in the Middle East. The positions of the Holy See on the various conflicts in the region and on the status of Jerusalem and the Holy Places, it says, are well known. The Pope calls for conversion to interior peace linked to justice, and for forgiveness – overriding all distinctions of race, sex and class.

The next chapter addresses the issue of ecumenical unity, describing it as a form of mosaic which requires significant effort in the reinforcement of Christian witness. The Pope encourages a communion understood not as confusion, but rather as recognition and respect for others. He encourages theology and ecumenical Commissions to speak with one voice on important moral questions like the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace.

Under the heading “Interreligious dialogue”, the document recalls the historical and spiritual links that Christians have with Jews and Muslims. This dialogue, it states, is not dictated by pragmatic considerations of a political or social order, but on the theological foundations of faith. Regarding Christian-Jewish dialogue, the Pope invites Christians to condemn the unjustifiable persecutions of the past and with regard to Muslims, he says it is regrettable how doctrinal differences have been used as a pretext by both Christians and Muslims to justify, in the name of religion, acts of intolerance, discrimination, marginalization and persecution.

The document then addresses the presence of Christians in the Middle East, saying they have the right and the duty to participate fully in civil life. The Pope affirms the right to religious liberty and to publicly manifest one’s belief and its symbols, without putting one’s own life or personal freedom in danger. The document then considers secularization and the violent fundamentalism that claims to have a religious origin. Secularism denies the citizen the right to publicly express his or her religion. A healthy secularity, on the other hand, means distinction and collaboration between politics and religion, characterized by mutual respect.
The Pope also faces the question of a Christian exodus from the Middle East under the chapter on Migrants. He asks political and religious leaders to avoid policies and strategies tending towards a monochromatic Middle East which does not reflect its human and historical reality. This chapter also makes an appeal on behalf of immigrant workers who often experience situations of discrimination and injustice.

The second part of the Apostolic Exhortation addresses some of the principal categories that constitute the Catholic Church: Patriarchs, bishops, priests and seminarians, those called to the consecrated life, and the laity – who the Pope invites to overcome divisions and subjective interpretations of Christian life. Benedict XVI also addresses the Family and its identity as a domestic Church, and the role of women in the Middle East whose voices, he says, must be heard with equal respect to that of the man. Speaking to young people and children, the Pope exhorts them not to be afraid or ashamed of being Christians and to respect other believers, Jews and Muslims.

The third part of the document is entitled: “The Word of God, soul and source of communion and witness” and suggests proclaiming a Year of the Bible and an annual Bible Week. In this chapter the Pope encourages the development of new communication and educational structures.

In the chapter on Liturgy and sacramental life, the Pope says he hopes for an ecumenical agreement between the Catholic Church and the Churches with which it is in theological dialogue on the mutual recognition of Baptism, and for more frequent practice of the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Regarding Prayer and pilgrimages, the Pope asks that the faithful have free access to holy places and that biblical pilgrimage returns to its original motivations of penitence and the search for God.

The chapter dedicated to Evangelization and charity encourages an evangelization that looks to both the ecumenical and interreligious dimensions and calls for a renewed missionary spirit in this multicultural and pluri-religious context, hoping that the Year of Faith will provide a particular stimulus.

Benedict XVI concludes the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” by asking that political and religious authorities not only alleviate the suffering of all those who live in the Middle East, but also eliminate the causes of this suffering, and do all in their power to enable peace to prevail. At the same time, the Catholic faithful are exhorted to give a courageous and common witness that is “difficult…but exhilarating”.

Pope signs Apostolic exhortation (full text)

 2012-09-14 Vatican Radio
 (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has signed the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. In short his “roadmap” for the future of the Christian community in the region. The signing ceremony took place in the Basilica of St Paul, Harissa Friday evening. Below the full text of the Holy Fathers’ address:

“I thank Patriarch Gregorios Laham for his words of welcome, and the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nikola Eterović, for his introduction. My warm greetings go to the Patriarchs, to all the Eastern and Latin Bishops assembled in this beautiful Cathedral of Saint Paul, and to the members of the Special Council of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. I am also gratified by the presence of the Orthodox, Muslim and Druze delegations, as well as those from the world of culture and from civil society. I greet with affection the beloved Greek Melkite community with gratitude for your welcome. Your presence makes my signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente all the more solemn; it testifies that this document, while addressed to the universal Church, has a particular importance for the entire Middle East.

Providentially, this event takes place on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a celebration originating in the East in 335, following the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection built over Golgotha and our Lord’s tomb by the Emperor Constantine the Great, whom you venerate as saint. A month from now we will celebrate the seventeen-hundredth anniversary of the appearance to Constantine of the Chi-Rho, radiant in the symbolic night of his unbelief and accompanied by the words: “In this sign you will conquer!”

Later, Constantine signed the Edict of Milan, and gave his name to Constantinople. It seems to me that the Post-Synodal Exhortation can be read and understood in the light of this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and more particularly in the light of the Chi-Rho, the two first letters of the Greek word “Christos”. Reading it in this way leads to renewed appreciation of the identity of each baptized person and of the Church, and is at the same time a summons to witness in and through communion.

Are not Christian communion and witness grounded in the Paschal Mystery, in the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ? Is it not there that they find their fulfilment? There is an inseparable bond between the cross and the resurrection which Christians must never forget. Without this bond, to exalt the cross would mean to justify suffering and death, seeing them merely as our inevitable fate. For Christians, to exalt the cross means to be united to the totality of God’s unconditional love for mankind. It means making an act of faith! To exalt the cross, against the backdrop of the resurrection, means to desire to experience and to show the totality of this love. It means making an act of love! To exalt the cross means to be a committed herald of fraternal and ecclesial communion, the source of authentic Christian witness. It means making an act of hope!

In examining the present situation of the Church in the Middle East, the Synod Fathers reflected on the joys and struggles, the fears and hopes of Christ’s disciples in these lands. In this way, the entire Church was able to hear the troubled cry and see the desperate faces of many men and women who experience grave human and material difficulties, who live amid powerful tensions in fear and uncertainty, who desire to follow Christ – the One who gives meaning to their existence – yet often find themselves prevented from doing so. That is why I wanted the First Letter of Saint Peter to serve as the framework of the document. At the same time, the Church was able to admire all that is beautiful and noble in the Churches in these lands. How can we fail to thank God at every moment for all of you (cf. 1 Th 1:2; Part One of the Post-Synodal Exhortation), dear Christians of the Middle East! How can we fail to praise him for your courage and faith? How can we fail to thank him for the flame of his infinite love which you continue to keep alive and burning in these places which were the first to welcome his incarnate Son? How can we fail to praise and thank him for your efforts to build ecclesial and fraternal communion, and for the human solidarity which you constantly show to all God’s children?

Ecclesia in Medio Oriente makes it possible to rethink the present in order to look to the future with the eyes of Christ. By its biblical and pastoral orientation, its invitation to deeper spiritual and ecclesiological reflection, its call for liturgical and catechetical renewal, and its summons to dialogue, the Exhortation points out a path for rediscovering what is essential: being a follower of Christ even in difficult and sometimes painful situations which may lead to the temptation to ignore or to forget the exaltation of the cross. It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride, and unity over division.

In the light of today’s Feast, and in view of a fruitful application of the Exhortation, I urge all of you to fear not, to stand firm in truth and in purity of faith. This is the language of the cross, exalted and glorious! This is the “folly” of the cross: a folly capable of changing our sufferings into a declaration of love for God and mercy for our neighbour; a folly capable of transforming those who suffer because of their faith and identity into vessels of clay ready to be filled to overflowing by divine gifts more precious than gold (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-18). This is more than simply picturesque language: it is a pressing appeal to act concretely in a way which configures us ever more fully to Christ, in a way which helps the different Churches to reflect the beauty of the first community of believers (cf. Acts 2:41-47: Part Two of the Exhortation); in a way like that of the Emperor Constantine, who could bear witness and bring Christians forth from discrimination to enable them openly and freely to live their faith in Christ crucified, dead and risen for the salvation of all.

Ecclesia in Medio Oriente provides some elements that are helpful for a personal and communal examination of conscience, and an objective evaluation of the commitment and desire for holiness of each one of Christ’s disciples. The Exhortation shows openness to authentic interreligious dialogue based on faith in the one God, the Creator. It also seeks to contribute to an ecumenism full of human, spiritual and charitable fervour, in evangelical truth and love, drawing its strength from the commandment of the risen Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

The Exhortation as a whole is meant to help each of the Lord’s disciples to live fully and to pass on faithfully to others what he or she has become by Baptism: a child of light, sharing in God’s own light, a lamp newly lit amid the troubled darkness of this world, so that the light may shine in the darkness (cf. Jn 1:4f. and 2 Cor 4:1-6). The document seeks to help purify the faith from all that disfigures it, from everything that can obscure the splendour of Christ’s light. For communion is true fidelity to Christ, and Christian witness is the radiance of the paschal mystery which gives full meaning to the cross, exalted and glorious. As his followers, “we proclaim Christ crucified … the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:23-24; cf. Part Three of the Exhortation).

“Fear not, little flock” (Lk 12:32) and remember the promise made to Constantine: “In this sign you will conquer!” Churches of the Middle East, fear not, for the Lord is truly with you, to the close of the age! Fear not, because the universal Church walks at your side and is humanly and spiritually close to you! It is with this hope and this word of encouragement to be active heralds of the faith by your communion and witness, that on Sunday I will entrust the Post-Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to my venerable brother Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, and to all priests, deacons, men and women religious, the seminarians and all the lay faithful. “Be of good cheer” (Jn 16:33)! Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Theotókos, I invoke God’s abundant gifts upon all of you with great affection! God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! May God bless all of you!لِيُبَارِك الربُّ جميعَكُم



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