Visit of Benedict XVI to the Lebanon
The Bishops of CELRA expressed Pope Benedict XVI’s courage in travelling to the Lebanon while the Middle East is living through an extremely critical period of its history. He came to deliver to the Bishops the Apostolic Exhortation of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East held in 2010, that will serve as the road map for eastern Catholics for the years to come, giving light upon their own identity, their relations with other Christians and with other religions.
Post-Synodic Apostolic Exhortation
This Exhortation strongly encouraged Catholics to reinforce the spirit of communion and of ecumenism between the different Churches, in order to promote dialogue between religions in a move towards peace and reconciliation. The Exhortation also invited Christians to deepen their faith, not to emigrate or abandon the countries where they live, in spite of the difficulties of daily life.
Offence against religious feelings
The Bishops condemned the film “Innocence of Muslims” which deeply hurt Muslim feelings and asked the United Nations and all the countries around the world to enact laws that would prevent harm to religious symbols on the grounds of freedom of expression and to vigorously punish those found guilty as individual freedom ends where the freedom of others begins.
General situation in neighbouring countries
The Bishops reviewed the general situation in the Arab countries and discussed the consequences of the Arab Spring for the countries that are experiencing this phenomenon. Attention was however focused on the Syrian conflict which has caused a humanitarian crisis, and especially for the refugees who are living in dreadful conditions. The Bishops called on Catholic charities to continue to work hand in hand with other humanitarian organisations. They praised Jordan, its king, people and government for taking in refugees. Lebanon and Iraq have also played a commendable role. The Bishops invoked a special prayer for reconciliation in this latter country. All the Bishops took part in a prayer service for these intentions in the parish church of Madaba in the presence of a large crowd of faithful.
+Patriarch Fouad Twal
President of CELRA