Pope Meets Sfeir at the Vatican

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Pope Benedict XVI held talks with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir at the Vatican on Friday, a day after meeting with President Michel Suleiman.

The pope and Sfeir discussed the political situation in Lebanon and the region and the condition of Christians in the Middle East.

A Vatican statement said Thursday that Suleiman and the pope expressed hope that a new government in Lebanon would bring stability to the country.

Sfeir has submitted his resignation to the Vatican. It was not clear yet whether the pope had accepted the resignation.

If accepted, it remains unknown whether the election of a new patriarch will take place before or after the election of a number of Maronite bishops to replace those who have reached the retirement age of 75.

The bishops who have reached retirement age could still vote to elect a new patriarch as long as their successors have not been appointed.

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