“Real believers don’t kill”

The Holy Father met with Lebanese political and religious leaders in the Baabda Presidential Palace, where he was welcomed by the country’s President Michel Suleiman and his wife

The Pope’s second day of his three-day Apostolic Visit to Lebanon is being marked by a series of political and institutional meetings and an encounter with a group of young Middle Eastern people in the afternoon. After lunching with Lebanese patriarchs and bishops in the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Cilicia, Benedict XVI will move on to Bkerke, to meet with Lebanese and Middle Eastern young people.

Thousands of people waving Lebanese and Vatican flags gathered this morning in Beirut  to greet Benedict XVI, who left the Apostolic Nunciature in Harissa (north of the capital) at 9:30 am to visit the Presidential Palace in Baabda.

The Pope was welcomed by Lebanon’s Marronite Catholic president, Michel Suleiman, in person, who invited locals yesterday to gather in the streets to greet the Pope. Today was declared a national holiday in Lebanon on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Visit to the country. A part from the President, the Pope also met with other State officials and leaders of the Muslim communities.

The Pope planted a Lebanese cedar tree (the country’s national emblem), together with President Suleiman in the Baabda Presidential Palace. The brief ceremony was held before the Pope addressed his speech on peace to Lebanese political, intellectual and religious figures in the May 25th Hall (the date of the Israeli retreat from Lebanon after the war in 2000) of the Baabda Presidential Palace. When Benedict XVI entered the Hall he was greeted with applause and music by Mozart in the background.

In an inflamed Middle East, Benedict XVI has called for collaborative action and “authentic dialogue bearing fruit in new forms of coexistence.” “Authentic faith does not lead to death... verbal and physical violence must be rejected. Religious freedom has a social and political dimension which is indispensable for peace.” Peace “Thoughts of peace, words of peace and acts of peace create an atmosphere of respect. If we want peace, let us defend life!”  Let there be victory of love over hate, these were the key messages in today’s speech.

 A country’s primary wealth is it’s people: “The country’s future depends on them, individually and collectively, as does its capacity to work for peace.” “A commitment to peace is possible only in a unified society.” But, Benedict XVI pointed out, “Unity... is not the same as uniformity. Social cohesion requires unstinting respect for the dignity of each person and the responsible participation of all in contributing the best of their talents and abilities.”

In order to build and consolidate peace, we must “constantly return to the wellsprings of our humanity. Our human dignity is inseparable from the sacredness of life as the gift of the Creator. In God’s plan, each person is unique and irreplaceable. A person comes into this world in a family, which is the first locus of humanization, and above all the first school of peace. To build peace, we need to look to the family, supporting it and facilitating its task, and in this way promoting an overall culture of life,” the Pope advised.

“The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life.” The defence of life “leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. Wherever the truth of human nature is ignored or denied, it becomes impossible to respect that grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart.” 

“The unconditional acknowledgement of the dignity of every human being, of each one of us, and of the sacredness of human life, is linked to the responsibility which we all have before God. We must combine our efforts, then, to develop a sound vision of man, respectful of the unity and integrity of the human person,” the Pope explained. “Without this, it is impossible to build true peace. While more evident in countries which are experiencing armed conflict – those wars so full of futility and horror – there are assaults on the integrity and the lives of individuals taking place in other countries too.”

“Unemployment, poverty, corruption, a variety of addictions, exploitation, different forms of trafficking, and terrorism not only cause unacceptable suffering to their victims but also a great impoverishment of human potential,” he stressed.

“Mankind is one great family for which all of us are responsible.” But “by questioning, directly or indirectly, or even before the law, the inalienable value of each person and the natural foundation of the family, some ideologies undermine the foundations of society.”

Benedict XVI therefore called for an end to “these attacks on our efforts to build harmonious coexistence.” “Only effective solidarity can act as an antidote, solidarity that rejects whatever obstructs respect for each human being, solidarity that supports policies and initiatives aimed at bringing peoples together in an honest and just manner."

 :: Sunday 16 September 2012


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