Pope backs Syria ceasefire as Vatican confirms Lebanon visit
Published Sunday, April 8, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI called on Sunday for an end to bloodshed in Syria as the Vatican confirmed the dates for his September trip to Lebanon.
Giving his traditional Easter message, the Pope called on all sides to commit to dialogue to end the violence as part of a wider appeal to give hope to the entire Middle East.
"Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community," he said.
The Vatican also confirmed on Sunday the dates of the Pope's visit to Lebanon – due to take place in September.
He will visit the country from September 14 to 16, but further details of his schedule were not announced.
The trip will mark the second to the region for Benedict, who visited Jordan, Palestine, and Israel in 2009.
The Pope's message comes at a time of increased concern over the persecution of Arab Christians across the Middle East.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fuad Twal, warned on Sunday in his Easter homily of the plight of Christians in the region, saying that the world was now "less concerned" about the minority.
"I wish all of you a beautiful and holy feast of the Resurrection, in the knowledge that the events unfolding in the Middle East threaten our region, our people and our Christians, that add a sombreness to this Easter joy," he said.
Twal, the most senior Roman Catholic in the Middle East, evoked the "fear" of Christians in the region in the traditional address, delivered at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.