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Christians and Muslims united for peace

· At the General Audience the Pope speaks about the “extraordinary days” of his trip in Lebanon ·

The time as come to give together an honest and decisive testimony against divisions and war

Christians and Muslims united for peace. This was appeal was raised during those intense days of the recent Apostolic Journey to Lebanon, and reiterated on Wednesday morning, 19 September, in the  Paul VI Hall. As would be expected Benedict XVI dedicated the reflection during his weekly meeting with the faithful to the recent trip. And in this way his thoughts turned to those “extraordinary days” experienced in the heart of a tortured land that he wanted to reach “despite difficult circumstances” because “a father,” he explained, “must always be beside his children when they encounter serious problems”. It was a gesture much appreciated by the different components of the Lebanese and Middle Eastern community, all of whom without distinction experienced “with enthusiasm and in a relaxed and constructive setting” an important moment of mutual respect, of comprehension  and of brotherhood. This “constitutes,” he added, “a strong sign of hope for all humanity”. And this, despite the sufferings and drama that permeates in the Middle East.  “I am thinking especially,” the Pope specified, “of the terrible conflict that torments Syria”, causing “thousands of deaths” and “a flow of refugees pouring into the region in a desperate search for security and a future”. The Pope's thoughts went  also to the “difficult situation in Iraq” and in the whole region.

Benedict XVI then traced back, step by step, over the events of those historic days underlining the light and shadows that emerged from the encounter with the Middle Eastern reality. He spoke of his invitation  to those who welcomed him in the land  to celebrate, in the cross, the victory of love over hatred, of forgiveness over vengeance and of unity over division. He then resumed his discussion with  an invitation to dialogue which he extended to civil authorities of the Country and to leaders of the religious community, who met on the second day at the Lebanese president's residence.

With particular emotion he then relived his afternoon meeting with young people  in Bkerké,  where his shared appeal to prayer, that “harmony and reconciliation” be stronger than the draw of death. Finally, he urged all Christians in the  Middle East “to live the faith and to witness it  without fear” during the great celebration at the City Center Waterfront of Beirut, at the end of which he consigned the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Now, he concluded, “the time has come, to give together a decisive witness against division, against violence, against war”.

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