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Papal visit rallied embattled Christians of Middle East, cardinal says

September 18, 2012

After accompanying Pope Benedict XVI on his weekend trip to Lebanon, the prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches told L’Osservatore Romano that he had seen “the image of a flock never frightened by howling wolves.”

Despite the tensions in the Middle East, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said, that Christians who met the Pope felt “the full force and courage that it receives from the dependable closeness of a caring pastor who does not hesitate to set out with it on the journey, when the threat draws closer.”

The cardinal said that such encouragement from the Pope is timely, because of the pressure on Christians to leave the region. It is a “real risk,” he told the Vatican newspaper, that the Christian presence in the Middle East could disappear—a development that he said would be “incomprehensible” in light of the strong history of Christian involvement in the societies of the region.


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