Pope Benedict Visits Lebanon Amid Tumult

Brings Message of Support to Christians, Peace to Region

getty images

By Reuters

Published September 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Pope Benedict arrives in Lebanon on Friday to bring a message of peace to a region torn by civil war in neighbouring Syria and strained by violent Islamist protests against the United States in Libya and Egypt.

While those tensions overshadowed preparations for the religiously sensitive visit, security was low-key in Beirut and the only protests - against a film denigrating the Muslim Prophet Mohammad - were due to take place far from the capital.

Even the militant Shi’ite movement Hezbollah has hung b anners along the airport highway greeting Benedict with a picture of him and texts in Arabic and French saying: “Hezbollah welcomes the pope in the homeland of coexistence”.

Nearby, the movement - which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist group - put up Arabic-only banners for local consumption with a different message: “Welcome to you in the homeland of resistance.”

In Christian districts of the capital, pictures of the 85-year-old pope were plastered in every street and church bells rang out on Friday morning.

“The pope is with us,” was the headline in Al-Nahar newspaper, which said more than 5,000 military and security personnel were being deployed to protect the pontiff. Beirut airport was due to close to all air traffic for two hours shortly before his arrival at 1.45 pm (1045 GMT).

Beirut-based Samir Khalil Samir, a leading Catholic expert on Islam, did not expect major security problems despite anti-U.S. protests in Libya, Egypt and Yemen because he said all Lebanese communities saw the trip as a gesture of peace.

“He will bring a spiritual message - one with political consequences, of course, but spiritual,” he told Reuters.

Benedict, on his fourth trip to the Middle East as pope, will stress unity among the different Christian churches in the region and peace between Christians and Muslims during the visit, which will be restricted to Beirut and its surroundings and end on Sunday.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.