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“This is not a trip to Lebanon only that the Pope will make, but for the entire region”

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Lebanon from September 14 to 16, 2012. During this time, the Pope will present to the heads of Churches and leaders of Christian communities   the Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East, following the Synod which took place in 2010.

As a prelude to the Holy Father’s visit, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem spoke to Vatican Radio:

“We anticipate this Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, in a special way,” said the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. “It is a summary of what we wanted for our Synod.”

A Question of Identity

The Patriarch clarified, “It goes back to the idea of belonging to this land (Editor’s note: Palestine). It is a matter of identity, of politics. (…) It is for us, pastors, and a few in the international community to be concerned for the presence of Christians.”’

When asked, the Patriarch did not conceal his disappointment regarding interreligious dialogue:  “There has not been much progress in the dialogue with the Jews, even if there are people of good will.”   “Even the feast of Ramadan, which presented a good opportunity for openness and dialogue to seek peace, did  not prevent or minimize the rise of certain Muslim radicalism.

What concerns the Patriarch most  is probably the tension and violence  that is happening in Syria, that for now, we  speak less about the situation in Palestine and the occupied territories. “We expect the Pope’s message of encouragement.” The Patriarch concluded, “This is not a trip to Lebanon only that the Pope will make, but for the entire region. The seven Catholic Patriarchs will be there to discuss the situation as it is, even if we do not easily see an end to the violence in the Middle East.”

Laurent Charnin

To listen to the full interview on Vatican Radio RealAudioMP3