Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pope's coming visit to Lebanon: What's expected?

Fifteen years ago John Paul II visited Lebanon. Now his predecessor will pay a visit. Next week, Benedict XVI will be in the heart of the Middle East, to encourage Christians who are suffering and facing discrimination. The visit will also be a new opportunity to promote co-existence by strengthening ties with Muslim communities. 

To prepare and keep track of his visit, a website was launched in French, Arabic, English and Italian. The website will also include the Pope's speeches, which without a doubt will focus on the current instability in the Middle East.

BENEDICT XVI - Angelus 07-29-2012 
“It's with great pain and suffering that I'm following the tragic and rising violence in Syria,which has left many dead and others wounded, including civilians. The violence has also left many homeless, forcing them to become refugees in neighboring countries.”

The Pope will be in Lebanon for three very intense days. On Friday 14th, he will visit St. Paul's Basilica in Harissa to sign the apostolic exhortation that was developed after the Synod on the Middle East. The document of course focuses on Christians who live in that part of the world. 

On the morning of Saturday, September 15 the Pope will have meetings with local political authorities. He will also meet key leaders of the Muslim community, who have actually said that the Pope's visit will be very important for them as well. Benedict XVI will then have lunch with bishops of Lebanon, followed by a meeting with a youth group. 

Sunday morning the Pope will celebrate Mass in Beirut. That's when the Pope will officially present the signed apostolic exhortation. Before heading back to Rome in the afternoon, the Pope will preside over an ecumenical gathering in the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate.

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