Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pope Benedict in Lebanon: "From across the Middle East the young people came"

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict's visit to Lebanon, full of significance for the countries of the Middle East, has been overshadowed as far as media coverage goes by some photographs taken in France and by the reaction to a crass Youtube video produced in California. The full coverage from the Vatican news website is at Pope Benedict XVI's journey to Lebanon.

Earlier this evening, Pope Benedict met with the young people from all over the Middle East. Vatican Radio have a report of this meeting: Pope: from across the Middle East the young people came.
...many were waiting to see what the security situation would be like before deciding to come. Some didn’t care about that at all, crossing over the border from war-torn Syria – one young girl saying she hadn’t fled the country but come here on purpose to bring the Holy Father’s prayers for peace back to her suffering home. And they came too from the Holy land, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan, Europe, the Americas and Australia – from across every continent to celebrate the peace that Pope Benedict wants to share in a suffering world. And they weren’t just Christians either – at least one thousand Muslims came, many singing in mixed-faith choirs.
This second report describes what Pope Benedict had to say to the young people: Pope to Muslims and Christians: "Come together and end violence"....  The full text of Pope Benedict's speech can be found at the Vatican website: Meeting with young people: Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (and at the Vatican news site here). The greetings to young Muslims and to young people from Syria are particularly moving:
I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis. It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.

I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war.
The same link at the Vatican site includes a video of the meeting. If you do watch the video, it is worth remembering that the setting, though it appears peaceful enough, is close to regions of great tension and present warfare.

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