Christian Youth to Pope: We Don't Fear Others, We Will Hold Onto Our Landإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Youth from Lebanon and across the Middle East, who gathered on Saturday in Bkirki to meet with Pope Benedict XVl, stressed that they will hold onto their land.
The gathering was an open-air encounter with what organizers said was more than 15,000 young people in the patriarchate.
Among many chants heard was "Benedict XVI loves you all!"
Many of the youth were wearing caps bearing the pope's signature message during the trip: "My peace I give to you."
The pontiff arrived at the venue seated in the popemobile in a joyous atmosphere of of music, song and dance.
The youth stressed in a speech delivered by Rania Abou Shaqra that the youth will hold onto their land, pointing out that they don't fear the other who is different but extremism.
Abou Shaqra told the pontiff that his “presence in Lebanon is a challenge against war and a sign of peace.”
“We live in fear and in great despair to confront corruption,” she pointed out.
Abou Shaqra noted that the difficulties the youth “are encountering are enormous as we are working hard to carry out our mission in Lebanon and the world, but we feel that we don't have the ability to influence.”
She stressed that the youth will “hold onto our land to preserve the region's unique characters.”
“We live in a future that knows no wars, where we work with our brothers from other religions in building the civilization of love,” she said.
For his part Roy Greg told the pope that the youth are seeking to become “mediators for dialogue and cooperation to experience the real coexistence.”
“We don't fear others who are different, even if we fear extremism that hampers interfaith dialogue,” Greg said.
He said that the youth “believe in the unity of the Church and are waiting impatiently for the pontiff's guidance and instructions.”
Matonite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi kicked off the ceremony, which was attended by President Michel Suleiman, with a speech warning against religious extremism which caused fear in the youth.
“The youths are longing to live in peace and avoid migration,” al-Rahi, who accompanied the pontiff in the popemobile, said.
He noted that the youth need to rediscover their social values and to carry the “message of Christianity.”
Later al-Rahi presented to the pope a 100-million-year-old fossil called the "Rinovatos Maronita.”
Bishop of Tripoli George Abu Jaoude said that the “youths in Lebanon and the Middle East, who are the cradle of the Christian religion, are living in anxiety and fear because their countries are voiding of the Christian presence.”