Syria Crisis Puts Pope's Lebanon Visit in Doubt

The crisis in Syria and its impact on Lebanon have put in doubt Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to Lebanon in September, reports said Wednesday.

The trip scheduled for September 14 to 16 remains confirmed on the program published regularly on the pope's planned visits.

However, it "could be canceled at the last minute" due to the unrest in Syria, according to unnamed sources quoted by I.MEDIA, the agency specializing on Vatican news.

The Vatican's "reticence at giving precise outlines on the voyage is telling of a desire to move slowly in a regional situation that is becoming more explosive daily," according to the website Vatican Insider.

It said that the secretariat has been analyzing the development of the Syrian crisis closely, pointing in particular to claims that the conflict is being "fuelled by weapons and armed jihadists from overseas, including Lebanon."

There are fears at the Vatican that the conflict could spill in to northern Lebanon.

Alberto Gasbarri, who is in charge of the logistics of pontiff travels, will head to Beirut by the end of June to plan the visit.

Prime Minister Najib Miqati invited the pontiff to visit in November last year during a visit to the Vatican.

The trip will mark the second to the region for Benedict, who visited Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories in 2009.

During the trip, he is expected to hand over an apostolic exhortation to bishops from throughout the Middle East, the Vatican said.

Source: Agence France Presse

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