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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora