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Pope reflects on visit to Lebanon, enthusiastic reception

Catholic World News - September 19, 2012

At his regular weekly audience on September 19, Pope Benedict XVI said that his weekend visit to Lebanon was a trip that “I was very keen to make despite the difficult circumstances, because a father must always remain alongside his children when they face serious problems.”

Following his usual practice after a foreign voyage, the Pope used his Wednesday public to reflect on the trip. He remarked that Lebanon is “a country which is complex but emblematic for the region,” and said that the tradition of tolerance amid diversity in Lebanon should be extended throughout the Middle East.

The Pontiff spoke with concern about the violence and suffering that continue in the Middle East, and expresses his sympathy for “the legitimate aspirations of those dear peoples.” He mentioned in particular the bloodshed in Syria and the refugee crisis that it has provoked. He also spoke of the continued unrest in Iraq.

“Yet above all,” the Pope observed, his trip was a “meeting with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East.” He reported on the excitement that he had seen, especially the "irrepressible enthusiasm of the thousands of young people from Lebanon and neighboring countries.”

Pope Benedict said that in his apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, which he released during the trip, he had assured the Christians of that region that the faithful all around the world stand in solidarity with them, and encouraged them to continue their witness to the Gospel even under adverse conditions. “I invited Middle Eastern Catholics to fix their gaze on the crucified Christ,” to find the strength to continue their mission, he said.

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