Pope Benedict makes a religiously delicate and potentially dangerous trip to Lebanon this weekend to appeal for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East as civil war rages next door in Syria.
The 85-year-old pope, making his 24th international trip and fourth to the Middle East, will spend three days preaching unity among Christians and peace between Christians and Muslims during his time in the Lebanese capital Beirut from Friday to Sunday.
“I urge all Christians in the Middle East, whether they be long-established or recently arrived, to be builders of peace and agents of reconciliation,” he said during his general audience on Wednesday.
Benedict will hold two major open-air events and meet with representatives of all of Lebanon’s myriad Christian and Islamic communities and political leaders. Such a rich religious tapestry, the pope said on Wednesday, “can only continue if it (the Middle East) lives in permanent peace and reconciliation”.