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Christians must be peacemakers in Middle East, Pope says

Catholic World News - September 12, 2012

“I exhort all Christians of the Middle East--both those born there and the newly arrived--to be builders of peace and architects of reconciliation,” Pope Benedict XVI said at his weekly public audience on September 12.

Looking forward to his visit to Lebanon, which begins on September 14, the Pope praised the “rich variety” of the Lebanese population, which includes Muslims and Druze as well as Catholics and Christians of other denominations. But he warned that the country’s history of religious diversity and coexistence “will be able to continue only if people live in permanent peace and reconciliation.”

“Let us pray to God that He may fortify the faith of Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East, and fill them with hope,” the Pope said. He observed that Christians have traditionally been leaders in encouraging inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, and said that the Christians of the Middle East must continue to play that role.

As Lebanon prepares for the first papal visit since 1997, political and religious leaders have agreed to set aside their differences and welcome the Pontiff. But the country is tense because of the escalating conflict in neighboring Syria, which threatens to spill over the borders and affect the entire region.

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