Lebanese Prime Minister Visits Pope

Note Nation’s Special Role as “Message” for Mideast

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Lebanon is a “message” for the Middle East and the whole world: various religious communities can coexist in peace.

This was affirmed Saturday when the prime minister of Lebanon visited Benedict XVI in the Vatican.

Sa’ad al-Din al-Hariri and his wife and entourage met with the Holy Father and subsequently with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

Hariri is the son of Rafic al-Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister who was assassinated just over five years ago, only a few months after leaving office. 

The Holy See communiqué affirmed that the discussions between the Pontiff and prime minster “took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality.”

It added that “attention turned to the situation in Lebanon with the hope being expressed that the country, through the exemplary coexistence of the various religious communities of which it is composed, may continue to be a ‘message’ for the region of the Middle East and for the whole world.”

The leaders spoke of the need to find a “just and global solution” to the conflicts in the Middle East, emphasizing the “importance of inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue for the promotion of peace and justice.”

“In this context,” the communiqué noted, “mention was also made of the forthcoming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East,” to be held in the Vatican in October.

Finally, Hariri and the Holy Father spoke of the Christian presence in Lebanon. 

“Great appreciation was expressed for the contribution made by the Catholic Church for the benefit of all society,” the Vatican reported, “especially through her educational, health care and aid institutions.”

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