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

(page 2 of 2)

He will also urge Christians not to leave the Middle East, the birthplace of the faith that they have been steadily abandoning in recent decades to escape wars, political unrest and discrimination by the region’s majority Muslims.

On Friday, Benedict will issue a document along these lines known as an “apostolic exhortation”, based on discussions among Catholic bishops at a Rome synod on the Middle East in 2010.

He will also hold two major open-air events and meet leaders of all Lebanon’s many Christian and Islamic communities, as well as the country’s political leaders.

Christians now make up about five percent of the Middle Eastern population, down from 20 percent a century ago. If current pressures and their low birth rates continue, some estimates say their 12 million total could be halved by 2020.

The pope’s message of peace will especially be aimed toward Syria, whose border is only 50 km (30 miles) away and where an opposition group says more than 27,000 people have been killed in an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Clashes have occasionally spilled over into Lebanese territory, evoking fears of further fighting in a country still recovering from the sectarian civil war that raged from 1975 until 1990.

Tensions have been rising between Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims, who generally back the uprising led by Syria’s Sunni majority, and Shi’ites who usually support Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

About two-thirds of Lebanon’s Christians are in full communion with the Vatican, either as members of the five local churches linked to Rome - the Maronites, the largest group, and the Greek Melkite, Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Catholics - or of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church itself.

There are also five Orthodox churches - the Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Assyrian and Coptic Orthodox - and small groups of Protestants, mostly Presbyterians and Anglicans.


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!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • 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.