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September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
17 September 2012
Greg Kandra

Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the popemobile to celebrate an outdoor Mass on the Beirut waterfront 16 September. (photo: CNS/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope pleads with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to leave the country (National Catholic Reporter) In a speech to at least 20,000 Lebanese youth tonight, both Christian and Muslim, Pope Benedict XVI tackled the elephant in the room during his fourth trip to the Middle East: Despite decades of papal appeals, so far nothing has stopped a steep decline in the region’s native Christian population. The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Foaud Twal, recently warned that the Holy Land is on the brink of becoming a “spiritual Disneyland,” full of glittering spiritual attractions but empty of flesh-and-blood Christians. Many observers wonder if a similar fate awaits the entire region.

The pope addressed those concerns, almost pleading with Lebanon’s Christian youth not to taste the “bitter sweetness” of emigration. “I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins,” the pope said. But those frustrations, he said, should not prompt them to choose “an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future.”

Pope meets with religious leaders and patriarchs in Lebanon, offers “fraternal closeness and prayers” (VIS) Sunday evening Pope Benedict XVI met with Orthodox patriarchs, representatives of Protestant communities and Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon. The encounter took place at the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Charfet, Beirut, famous for its library, which contains more than 3,000 manuscripts in Syriac and Arabic.

Having listened to some welcome remarks addressed to him by His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, the Holy Father expressed his thanks to those present who, he said, “represent the diversity of the Church in the East. ... My thoughts also go to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt and to the Ethiopian Orthodox who have had the recent sadness of losing their respective patriarchs. I wish to assure them of my fraternal closeness and of my prayers.”

Pope departs Lebanon, prays that “she may live in peace” (VIS) The Holy Father’s apostolic trip to Lebanon came to an end yesterday afternoon with the departure ceremony at the international airport of Beirut. Among those present to bid him farewell were Michel Sleiman, president of Lebanon, the country’s four Catholic patriarchs, various Lebanese bishops and representatives of the civil and religious authorities. In his address, the pope expressed his thanks “to the entire Lebanese people, who form a beautiful and rich mosaic and who have shown the successor of Peter their enthusiasm by the efforts, both general and specific, of each community. I cordially thank our venerable sister Churches and the Protestant communities. I thank in particular representatives of the Muslim communities. Through my stay here, I have noticed how much your presence has contributed to the success of my journey. In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace.”

U.N. panel says human rights situation in Syria deteriorating (Voice of America) An independent panel of U.N. investigators says the human rights situation in Syria has sharply deteriorated, with “gross violations” growing in number, pace and scale. The panel’s Brazilian chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday that “egregious violations” happen so often that his team has not been able to investigate them all.

Patriarch Kirill visits Japan (Interfax) Dozens of Russian expatriates accorded a warm welcome to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, who visited the Russian Orthodox Church’s embassy parish in Tokyo on Sunday. After conducting a service at the Church of St. Alexander of the Neva, Patriarch Kirill said that, “a parishioner’s last will has been fulfilled and an Orthodox church was dedicated in Tokyo four years ago after 40 years of incessant work.” “I remember how excited all of us were as the church was being sanctified and prayers said. Many of you remember the entire drama, which only proves that the truth is always right and that God hears the righteous prayer. This church is an example that must edify us all,” he said.

Tags: Syria Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI United Nations Patriarch Kirill