At his departure from Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI said the religious co-existence the people of Lebanon showed during his three-day apostolic visit can become an inspiration and model for the rest of the Middle East.
“In these troubled times, the Arab world and indeed the entire world will have seen Christians and Muslims united in celebrating peace,” said the Pope at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri Airport September 16. “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.”
Throughout Pope Benedict’s apostolic visit he has been welcomed by both Christians and Muslims at all his public events. The Lebanese population is 39 percent Christian and 60 percent Muslim.
Pope Benedict prayed that Lebanon would “continue to be a place where men and women can live in harmony and peace with each other” so as to witness to God’s presence in the world and also to the communion between people “whatever their political, social, or religious standpoint.”
“I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it,” said the Pope towards the close of his address. He added that the Lebanese people should continue to “resolutely reject all that could lead to disunity, and with determination choose brotherhood.”