ROME (JTA) – Pope Benedict XVI said he regards his upcoming trip to Lebanon as a visit aimed at promoting peace and dialogue in the entire Middle East.
Benedict is scheduled to visit Lebanon Sept. 14-16.
“My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension to the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace,” he said Sunday, addressing the faithful gathered at his summer residence outside Rome.
Benedict said he is “aware of the often dramatic situation experienced by the people of this region, too long torn apart by incessant conflicts” and that he understood “the anguish of many Middle Eastern people immersed in daily sufferings of all kinds, which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life.”
The pope did not name any specific country, but his words seemed to refer to several ongoing situations, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the persecution of Christians in areas of the Middle East and the crisis in Syria.
Benedict said his “concerned thoughts go out to those who, in search of a place of peace, leave their family and professional life, and experience the precariousness of being exiles.”
He added, “Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we cannot resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions. A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community, increasingly aware of the importance of a stable and lasting peace in the region for the whole world.”