Pope, Suleiman Hope New Govt Will Bring 'Longed-For Stability' to Lebanon

President Michel Suleiman and Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday expressed hope that a new government in Lebanon would bring "longed-for stability to the country, as it faced major internal and international challenges", the Vatican said.

The pontiff and Suleiman during their half-hour meeting also "stressed the importance of involving religious and civil authorities to make people aware of peace and reconciliation," the Vatican said in a statement.

The two also spoke about the situation in the Middle East "with particular reference to the recent events in several Arab countries" and voiced their "mutual conviction that it is urgent to resolve the ongoing conflicts in the region."

"The situation of Christians throughout the region and the contribution they can make to the good of the whole society" were also discussed, it said, noting that the coexistence of diverse Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon set an example.

The pope is also scheduled to hold talks with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Friday.

Benedict XVI unveiled the statue of Saint Maroun at St. Peter's square on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by Suleiman, Sfeir and scores of officials and personalities.

The five-meter high statue, sculpted by an Italian artist, was placed in the last available site on the outer wall of St. Peter Basilica, and depicts the saint holding a walking-stick.

Following a mass celebrated by Sfeir at the basilica Wednesday, Suleiman urged the Lebanese to unite to preserve the country's model of coexistence as a guarantee for long-term stability.

Source: Agence France Presse

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