Vatican says pope’s Lebanon trip still a go despite violence

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican confirmed on Wednesday (Sept. 12) that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon will go ahead … Continued

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican confirmed on Wednesday (Sept. 12) that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon will go ahead as planned, despite growing tension in the region after the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya by a mob enraged by an anti-Islam film.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican was closely monitoring developments in the region but there were no signs of specific security concerns for Benedict’s trip so far.

Benedict is scheduled to leave on Friday for a three-day visit to Lebanon despite rising instability spilling over from a deadly civil war in neighboring Syria. The visit is also a signal of the Vatican’s concern for Christian minorities in the Middle East who feel under threat after the upheavals of the Arab spring revolutions.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, hailed the “Holy Father’s brave visit to Lebanon” in Washington Wednesday (Sept. 12) and lamented the “thousands upon thousands” of persecuted Christians fleeing the Middle East.

“These Christian families want to stay in the ancient lands of their birth but too often make the diffucult decision to leave as a result of harrassment or violent threats by extremists,” said Dolan.

Lombardi said Benedict will restate his “message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions” during his visit.

The attacks against U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt were allegedly sparked by an American-produced film that satirizes Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

In his statement, Lombardi also warned against the “tragic results” of “unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers.” He said such provocations have the effect of nourishing “tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence.”

Lombardi stressed that “profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols” of different religions is an “essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples.”

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  • chuck711

    When does religion become evil? When people hurt and react in anger after the Pope is hurt. What real purpose does it serve for the Pope to visit the war zone of the radicals that live for war? If operatives hurt the pope, it will aid in more violence. The Pope’s trip is self centered, dangerous and the timing could lead to World War Three which means the trip is based on a anti-faith decision.

  • one nation

    Why would WW3 be stared over one death even though many would be upset by the death? Is there more behind this trip then we know ? If killed, would he be proclaimed a martyr and put on fast track like JP2?

  • AngelS2S

    chuck711, You have formed an unjust opinion in haste. First of all, anger can be just (e.g., if somebody murdered your mother, you would be inhuman if you felt no anger); secondly, anger in mature persons leads to constructive behavior, not needless violence (e.g., forgiving survivors of a heinous crime against their family become especially credible opponents of capital punishment). While there are indeed many radicals in Lebanon and also some Christians who would react to an assasination with retaliatory violence, you yourself offend Muslims if you are implying that Lebanese Muslims as a whole are incapable of being good hosts when leading groups agreed FAR IN ADVANCE to welcome the Pope and guarantee his safety (as much as is humanly possible anyway). It is also ethnocentric of you to be so oblivious of the pastoral needs of beleagured minorities in the Middle East EPECIALLY at a time such as this. Those whose opinions count the most will appreciate the pope’s courage and desire to be with them as a pastor among a frightened flock.