News / Middle East

    Pope Benedict on 3-Day Tour of Lebanon

    Pope Benedict XVI waves upon his arrival at Beirut international airport as he is welcomed by Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman, September 14, 2012.
    Pope Benedict XVI waves upon his arrival at Beirut international airport as he is welcomed by Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman, September 14, 2012.
    Paige Kollock
    Pope Benedict has arrived in Lebanon on a three-day visit aimed at promoting peace in this turbulent nation bordering both Syria and Israel. He is the first pope to travel to Beirut in 15 years, and his trip comes at a time of rising tensions among Christians in many parts of the Middle East.
     
    Hundreds of people and heavy security greeted the pope's arrival at the capital's Rafik Hariri international airport. He asked for prayers and efforts to deepen the dialogue between Christians and what he called “followers of other religions.”
     
    Lebanon has been preparing for the papal visit for months. Main highways are decorated with Vatican flags and billboards welcoming the pope.

    Christians like Nabil Braidy are celebrating what they call a momentous occasion. "The pope’s visit is important, and it’s kind of a victory for Christians as well as Muslims," said Braidy.

    Pascal Sakr, another Lebanese Christian, hopes the pope's visit will promote peace. It’s good to have this visit now, at this moment, because of the situation in the region. This visit will give us support and peace for Lebanon and the Orient,” Sakr stated.
     
    This is a turbulent time for Christians in this part of the Middle East. Lebanon is undergoing a period of relative peace after years of civil war, and Christians say they feel secure here, but they are concerned about spillover from the civil war in Syria, which has had a powerful influence on Lebanon for decades.

    More than 1,330 Syrian Christian refugees have fled to Lebanon, says Archbishop Issam John Darwich of Zahle, a Christian stronghold.

    “We are really afraid that the same event that’s happening in Syria will happen in Lebanon, and everywhere in the Arabic country," he said.
     
    Still, Lebanese Christians are divided politically over the conflict in Syria. Amin Ammourieh, a columnist with the An Nahar newspaper, says some of this derives from political divisions here between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.

    “Most of the Sunnah [Sunnis] are against the Syrian government and most of the Shias are with the Syrian government, so the Sunnah are united, the Shias are united, but the Christians are divided," he explained. "And that is the reason why they are weak in politics.”
     
    There are an estimated 13 million Catholics in the Middle East. Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, says the pope will work toward allaying their concerns about rising Islamic fundamentalism, and plead with them not to flee their homelands.

    “The Christians have always played a key seminal role in this culture, in this civilization from the time of the advent of Islam in the seventh century onward," Salem stated. "They are part of this history, this civilization. They should not alienate themselves from it.”
     
    The 85-year-old pontiff will meet with Muslim leaders and politicians and also visit the pilgrimage site of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa. His visit will conclude Sunday after a public Mass near the Beirut waterfront.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Expedito from: Kampala(Uganda0
    September 15, 2012 10:27 AM
    Its great that His Holliness the pope is reaching out to solve issues that may incite global violence and my humble appeal to brothers and sisters in Lebanon is to accept the resolutions made so as peace prevails.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.