Skip to comments.“Tensions have only strengthened Pope’s desire to visit Lebanon”
Posted on 09/13/2012 12:02:59 PM PDT by NYer
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
The Popes forthcoming visit to Lebanon was never in question. Indeed, far from discouraging the Pope from visiting Lebanon, the rising tensions in the area, have made him even more anxious to go, so he can promote peace and show his profound solidarity to everyone. The Vatican Secretary of State stated this, ahead of the Popes Middle Eastern visit, in an interview with French national newspaper Le Figaro, which will be published in tomorrows issue but is already available on the newspapers online version.
During the interview, the Popes right hand man spoke about the crisis in Syria: The Pope is following the dramatic context in which the Syrian people are living, with great concern. Benedict XVIs public appeals for peace, reconciliation and unity among the Syrian people, have increased over the past year. He has also been calling for a diplomatic solution. Bertone reassured the public that there was a great deal of excitement in Lebanon at the prospect of the Popes visit to the country and that no special security measures have been called for.
The cardinal went on to defend the Holy Sees overly prudent tone in its declarations regarding Syria: At the outset of this crisis, the Pope strongly condemned all the violence and loss of human life it was causing. With the same strength, the Pope accepted the aspirations of the Syrian people as legitimate, repeatedly inviting all leaders to abstain from violence and commit to dialogue and reconciliation. Bertone explained that the Churchs position is not neutral, it is just clear: violence simply leads to more violence! Violence leads to death. This is why, Bertone explained, the Holy See is calling for the immediate cessation of all violence, so that dialogue can prevail and further suffering prevented.
The cardinal also spoke about the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East which Ratzinger will sign in Lebanon. He stated that the Pope is not a political commentator!...The Exhortation will be a message of hope and of encouragement to all Catholics in the Middle East, so that they may give their precious contribution to the various societies in which they live. In answer to whether recent events will overshadow the Exhortation, Bertone said that the questions addressed at the Synod in October 2010,in a way foretold the aspirations expressed during the Arab Spring revolts.
Cardinal Bertone added that according to the Pope, protecting human dignity and human rights is the most efficient strategy for building a common good, the foundation of social co-existence Benedict XVI holds that democracy will bring about a greater respect for human rights and the better development of society on all levels. But he insists that religion and its values are a vital element of social fabric for the Pope it is inconceivable that believers should give up a part of themselves their faith to be active citizens.
During the interview with Le Figaro, the cardinal also talked about Islam. He said that concrete choices for the freedom of conscience, religious freedom, respect and dialogue which are present in relations among leaders, also need to be transferred to relations with the public, to the people who are under the influence of fundamentalist groups.
In relation to the Christian exodus from the Middle East, Cardinal Bertone invited the public to look at each situation independently and avoid generalisations: the primary reason is often economic and social and it is linked to the instability caused by war, whereas when there is a favourable social and cultural context Christians in Muslim countries as well strive to build a society in which everyone has a place, regardless of their faith. Bertone also recalled that the region is in fact the birthplace of Christianity: Christians in the Middle East are not missionaries who arrived from the West during the colonial period. The Middle East today owes a great deal to the Christian presence in the area, as it helped mould society. One example is last centurys Arab renaissance, which involved the participation of many important Christian figures.
Finally, regarding the Palestinian question, the cardinal said that the greatest challenge is finding a common solution with the help of the international community, in order to guarantee lasting peace.
The Lebanese people, both christian and muslim, are very excited about the pope’s visit. They have rolled out the red carpet for him. EWTN is offering Live coverage, beginning tomorrow morning at 11 am.
Prayer for Pope Benedict.
Lebanon is blowing up with attacks on KFC and Hardees. They are also burning pictures of the Pope.
I pray for his Mission to touch people with Christ’s love and I pray for Benedict’s safety.
Pray for the safety of our Pope.