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!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • 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.