Upon receiving the Letters of Credence from the new Ambassador of Lebanon Georges Chakib El Khoury, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the people of the country “may courageously continue their efforts” to increase solidarity and to build a united society.
"The millennial history of the country, and the place it occupies at the center of a complex region, give it a fundamental mission to contribute to peace and harmony among all," began the Holy Father.
What makes the country so valuable, according to Pope Benedict, is its “experience of life and of inter-community and inter-cultural collaboration.” In fact, the Pontiff described Lebanon as “a 'treasure' that has been entrusted to all the Lebanese people.”
This treasure is so important that the Pope called on the international community to “protect and value the country” in order to prevent it from “becoming a land in which regional and global conflicts are played out.”
The Holy Father also proposed that peace in the Middle East might be found if Lebanon is seen as a “laboratory in which to seek effective solutions to the conflicts that have long troubled the Middle East."
"The election of the president of the Republic, the formation of a government of national unity and the approval of a new electoral law will favor national cohesion and contribute to the true coexistence of the various components of the nation,” the Pope remarked. “I hope that, leaving particular interests to one side and healing the wounds of the past, everyone will make an effective commitment to the path of dialogue and reconciliation so that the country may progress in stability."
And yet, progress still must be made to achieve stability, the Pope said.
The “tensions that still exist demonstrate the need to continue down the path opened some months ago with the Doha Agreement, in order to build Lebanese institutions together," Pope Benedict noted. "In this commitment to the common good, people must be guided by an unshakeable certainty: each member of the Lebanese people must feel Lebanon as their home and know that their own concerns and legitimate expectations are effectively taken into consideration, while showing reciprocal respect for the rights of others."
This can be done by encouraging the youth, he continued. “It is necessary to promote and develop true education for peace, reconciliation and dialogue, directed above all at the young generations.”
“Lasting peace, which is the profound aspiration of all Lebanese, is possible only if everyone gives fundamental importance to the will to live together in the same land, and considers justice, reconciliation and dialogue as the appropriate context in which to resolve the problems of individuals and groups," the Holy Father asserted.
Noting that the Holy See follows events in Lebanon and the Middle East closely, Pope Benedict concluded by greeting the Catholic community in Lebanon inviting them to become “architects of unity and fraternity.”