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Critical Situation
Elections crucial to Lebanon’s survival; Pope Benedict prays for solution

.- Following the recitation of the Angelus today, Pope Benedict XVI appealed for a solution to the current political deadlock in Lebanon describing the approaching presidential elections as crucial to the nation's very survival.

Speaking in Italian to the thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said “As the numerous initiatives of these days show”, the pending election for a new Head of State in Lebanon “is a crucial passage, upon which depends the very survival of Lebanon and its institutions.”

The Pope said he shared Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir's concerns about the divisions among the nation’s political leaders as well as his desire that “all Lebanese can see themselves represented in the new president”. The Holy Father prayed that “all interested parties ... take the necessary distance from personal interests and have true passion for common good”.

The Pope’s appeal comes as the crucial parliamentary vote was postponed for a third time on Saturday evening. The new date for the vote is set for November 21, three days before current President Emile Lahoud’s mandate expires.

Vatican Radio explains that a September session failed to reach and agreement “because of an opposition boycott, and an October attempt was postponed as negotiators struggled to find a compromise candidate.”

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