Pope Benedict from Beirut: Lebanese People have Set Example of Diversity for Mideast and the Worldإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Pope Benedict XVI arrived on Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon, saying the coexistence of the country's different religious communities could serve as an example to all the Middle East.
He said: “The Lebanese people have set an example of diversity and mutual coexistence for the Middle East and the world.”
He made his remarks upon his arrival at the Rafik Hariri International Airport where an official, religious, and popular reception was thrown in his honor.
The official reception was headed by President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Najib Miqati with their respective wives.
Chants in support of the Pope were made upon his appearance from the plane where he waved to the crowd.
He was greeted by Suleiman, Miqati, Berri, and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi upon stepping down from the plane.
A 21-cannon salute was fired upon his arrival and the Vatican and Lebanese national anthems were played at the airport.
In his arrival speech, the pope noted that "this conviviality to which your country wishes to bear witness, will run deep only if it is founded upon a welcoming regard for the other and upon an attitude of benevolence, and if it is rooted in God who wishes all men to be brothers.
"The celebrated Lebanese equilibrium which wishes to continue to be a reality, will continue through the good will and commitment of all Lebanese,” he added.
"Only then will it serve as a model to the inhabitants of the whole region and of the entire world,” he said.
For his part, Suleiman said upon the pope's arrival: “Lebanon and the Vatican have enjoyed historic ties.”
“Lebanon welcomes you and you chose to announce to the world the importance of our country as an example of mutual coexistence,” he continued.
“You chose Lebanon despite the dangers to stress the importance of its Christian and Muslim presence in order to maintain Lebanon's historic character,” he added.
“You bring with you a message of peace to the peoples of the region through the apostolic exhortation,” said the president.
“To you, peace is not just the rejection of violence, but maintaining close ties with God,” he stressed.
“We hope your visit will bring good to Lebanon and the peoples of the region,” declared Suleiman.
The apostolic exhortation represents the conclusion of a Middle Eastern synod in 2010 that emphasized the defense of Christian minorities in the region.
The pope's next stop will be the papal embassy in Harissa.