Benedict XVI and Hariri stressed the importance of Lebanon, which for decades has been a model of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. The hope - said the statement - is that "through the exemplary coexistence" of different religious communities that comprise the country, it will "remain a 'message' for the Middle East region and the entire world."
Among other things the Lebanese government recently announced its intention to establish an Islamic-Christian holiday in the name of the Annunciation of Mary. It will have a "national" rather than "religious" stamp and will complement that of the Annunciation, not replace it. However, the new holiday aims to strengthen the "symbol of unity" among the Lebanese in the name of the Virgin Mary - who is also revered by followers of Mohammed - and "encourage the image of Lebanon as a 'Country' symbol of pluralism and tolerance", as often repeated by John Paul II.
Pope Benedict and Saad Hariri also stressed the need to find a "just and comprehensive solution to the conflicts that cause bloodshed in the Middle East. To achieve this goal - continues the statement - it is important to promote "intercultural and interreligious dialogue" that is a harbinger of peace and justice.