Papal Lebanon Visit part of effort to present Pope as international peacemaker and world’s ultimate moral authority, above all else.
2012-09-09 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) – “My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension to the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace”:
On the eve of his departure, Pope Benedict XVI has clearly stated the aim of this his 24th foreign visit and has voiced his serious concern for the “daily sufferings” of the people of the Middle East, “which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life”. Emer McCarthy reports
In his greeting to French speaking pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo for the midday Angelus this Sunday, Pope Benedict said his visit to Lebanon, extends to the peoples of the entire region, “too long torn apart by incessant conflicts”.
He added “My concerned thoughts go out to those who, in search of a place of peace, leave their family and professional life, and experience the precariousness of being exiles. Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we can not resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions. A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community, increasingly aware of the importance of a stable and lasting peace in the region for the entire world”.
Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict’s words. Original text in French:
Dear pilgrims, those of you here, or who are taking part in the Angelus through radio or television; in the coming days, I will make an apostolic visit to Lebanon to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, fruit of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held in October 2010. I will have the happy opportunity to meet with the Lebanese people and authorities, and the Christians of that beloved country and those from neighboring countries.
I am aware of the often dramatic situation experienced by the people of this region, too long torn apart by incessant conflicts. I understand the anguish of many Middle Eastern people immersed in daily sufferings of all kinds, which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life. My concerned thoughts go out to those who, in search of a place of peace, leave their family and professional life, and experience the precariousness of being exiles. Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we can not resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions.
A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community, increasingly aware of the importance of a stable and lasting peace in the region for the whole world. My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension in the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace, referring to 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!
World Peace Meet
(Vatican Radio)– Religious and government officials from around the world are gathering for what organizers have called the “largest ever world meeting for peace” in Sarajevo since the end of the Bosnian War. Vatican Radio correspondent Stefan J. Bos reports:
The gathering in Bosnia Herzegovina is organized by the Catholic Church-backed Community of Sant’Egidio and the Archdiocese of the Bosnian capital with the Balkan country’s Serbian Orthodox Church and Islamic and Jewish Communities.
Twenty years after Serbian forces began siege of Sarajevo, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch
was among those arriving Sunday with a message of peace.
He led a massive Orthodox Church Service in the heart of Sarajevo, aimed at expressing hope in a city that is still recovering from the wounds of history.
The patriarch later went to Sarajevo’s Cathedral of Jesus’ Heart, Bosnia’s largest Catholic church,
where he met Cardinal Vinko Puljić for a historic mass of reconciliation.
Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej made clear he “was glad to celebrate mass and to visit Sarajevo” which was devastated by war. He also appealed to everyone “to end the decline of the number of Christians in Sarajevo.” The patriarch said “it was time to solve the common problems of Muslims, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians” and other groups living here.
That message was shared by Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic who said that “God doesn’t show favoritism.”
He stressed that as “a person who has lived and survived through a brutal war” he realized that “great disaster has befallen the people of this country”.
The cardinal said he prays to “the Lord to heal all wounds”.
Yet, he also warned that while “Prayer was the strength in bearing the horrors of war” there were
“clouds of despair on the horizon” in the post-war, still ethnically divided and economically troubled nation.
That is why, he stressed, “it is important that a powerful message of peace may rise from
Sarajevo” for all ethic and religious groups in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Sunday’s Mass came at the start of what is seen as the largest and most important international gathering for peace since the end of the Bosnian war.
About 1,000 religious and other officials from dozens of countries are attending the
three-day World Meeting for Peace, which is held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Siege of Sarajevo and the outbreak of the Bosnian war.
Some 100,000 people died and 2 million people were forced from their homes as Bosnia
gave the lexicon of war the term “ethnic cleansing”.
In Sarajevo alone about 11,500 people, including 600 children died, in the 43-month siege by Serb forces that held the hilltops.
Slow-motion intervention eventually brought peace, but at the cost of ethnic segregation.
Yet religious leaders said they now want to continue to spread the message of hope and
renewal, in the footsteps of late Pope John Paul II who made a historic visit to Sarajevo in 1997