Pope Benedict XVI and Gregorios III Patriarch of the Church of Antiochthe visit the St. Paul Basilic in Harissa near Beirut September 14, 2012. Pope Benedict’s visit to Lebanon ranked as potentially his most dangerous even before this week’s protests in the Middle East raised the stakes, but he said on Friday he never considered calling it off for safety reasons. REUTERS/ Stefano Rellandini

Apostolic Journey to Lebanon (14-16 September 2012)

On the occasion of the signing and publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.

All quotes are by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI unless otherwise cited.


1. Meeting of His Holiness Benedict XVI with journalists during the flight to Lebanon

Papal Flight, 14 September 2012 [Full Text]

“I can tell you that no one advised me to cancel this journey, and for my part I never considered doing so, because I know that as the situation becomes more complex, it is all the more necessary to offer this sign of fraternal encouragement and solidarity. That is the aim of my visit: to issue an invitation to dialogue, to peace and against violence, to go forward together to find solutions to the problems.”

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters - Billboards and flags erected by Hezbollah depicting Pope Benedict XVI decorate a bridge on the main airport road in Beirut in preparation for the pope’s arrival tomorrow. The billboard reads: “Hezbollah welcomes the Pope to the country of co-existence.”


2. Welcoming ceremony at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport

14 September 2012 [Full Text]

“The links between Lebanon and the Successor of Peter are ancient and deep. Mr President, dear friends, I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of men. Christ says, سَلامي أُعطيكُم, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27). And looking beyond your country, I also come symbolically to all the countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all the inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs. To them too Christ says: سَلامي أُعطيكُم.”


3. Visit to St. Paul’s Basilica in Harissa and the signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation

14 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Fear not, little flock” (Lk 12:32) and remember the promise made to Constantine: “In this sign you will conquer!” Churches of the Middle East, fear not, for the Lord is truly with you, to the close of the age! Fear not, because the universal Church walks at your side and is humanly and spiritually close to you! It is with this hope and this word of encouragement to be active heralds of the faith by your communion and witness, that on Sunday I will entrust the Post-Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to my venerable brother Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, and to all priests, deacons, men and women religious, the seminarians and all the lay faithful. “Be of good cheer” (Jn 16:33)! Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Theotókos, I invoke God’s abundant gifts upon all of you with great affection! God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! لِيُبَارِك الربُّ جميعَكُم [May God bless all of you!]”


Faithful wave Lebanese and Vatican City flags amidst confetti upon Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in his pope mobile at the Baabda Presidential Palace near Beirut, September 15, 2012. Pope Benedict is in Lebanon on a three-day visit. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban
4. Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness

14 September 2012 [Full Text (PDF) of the Apostolic Exhortation]

“It is in this restrictive, unstable and lately violence-prone context that God has permitted his Church to grow. She lives there in a remarkable variety of forms. Along with the Catholic Church, a great number of venerable Churches and Ecclesial Communities of more recent date are present in the Middle East. This mosaic demands a significant and continued effort to build unity in respect for the riches of each, and thus to reaffirm the credibility of the proclamation of the Gospel and Christian witness.”

“The Pastors of the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris realize with regret and concern that the numbers of their faithful are dwindling in the traditional Patriarchal territories, and for some time now they have had to develop a plan of pastoral care for emigrants… I also exhort the Church’s Pastors in those places where Eastern Catholics have settled to welcome them with charity and fraternal esteem, to facilitate the bonds of communion between emigrants and their Churches of origin, and to enable them to celebrate in accordance with their own traditions and, wherever possible, to develop pastoral and parish activities.”


5. Meeting with members of the government, institutions of the Republic, the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and representatives of the world of culture

May 25th Hall of the Baabda Presidential Palace, 15 September 2012 [Full Text]

“We need to be very conscious that evil is not some nameless, impersonal and deterministic force at work in the world. Evil, the devil, works in and through human freedom, through the use of our freedom. It seeks an ally in man. Evil needs man in order to act. Having broken the first commandment, love of God, it then goes on to distort the second, love of neighbour. Love of neighbour disappears, yielding to falsehood, envy, hatred and death. But it is possible for us not to be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21). It is to this conversion of heart that we are called. Without it, all our coveted human “liberations” prove disappointing, for they are curtailed by our human narrowness, harshness, intolerance, favouritism and desire for revenge. A profound transformation of mind and heart is needed to recover a degree of clarity of vision and impartiality, and the profound meaning of the concepts of justice and the common good.”


Copyright Photographic Service L’Osservatore Romano
6. Luncheon with the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, members of the Special Council for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops and the papal entourage

Refectory of the Armenian Catholic Patriachate of Bzommar, 15 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Dear friends, through the intercession of the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, and of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, let us ask the Lord to bless the Armenian community, so sorely tried down through the ages, and to send to its harvest numerous saintly workers who, because of Christ, are enabled to change the face of our societies, to heal hearts that are broken and to offer courage, strength and hope to those who despair. Thank you!”


7. Meeting with the youth in the square across from the Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké

15 September 2012 [Full Text]

“You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you. She counts on you! Be young in the Church! Be young with the Church! The Church needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. All this is important and it takes time. Seek beauty and strive for goodness! Bear witness to the grandeur and the dignity of your body which “is for the Lord” (1 Cor 6:13b). Be thoughtful, upright and pure of heart! In the words of Blessed John Paul II, I say to you: “Do not be afraid! Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ!”


Copyright Photographic Service L’Osservatore Romano
8. Holy Mass and the presentation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East

Beirut City Center Waterfront, 16 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually, your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. He is always close to you. Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of his loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!”


9. Presentation of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East

Beirut City Center Waterfront, 16 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Dear Church in the Middle East, draw from the source of salvation which became a reality in this unique and beloved land! Follow in the footsteps of your fathers in faith, who by tenacity and fidelity opened up the way for humanity to respond to the revelation of God! Among the wonderful diversity of saints who flourished in your land, look for examples and intercessors who will inspire your response to the Lord’s call to walk towards the heavenly Jerusalem, where God will wipe away every one of our tears (cf. Rev 21:4)! May fraternal communion be a support for you in your daily life and the sign of the universal brotherhood which Jesus, the firstborn of many, came to bring! Thus, in this region which saw his actions and heard his words, may the Gospel continue to resonate as it did 2,000 years ago, and may it be lived today and for ever! Thank you.”


Associated Press - Lebanese Muslim women waited to greet Pope Benedict XVI at the airport in Beirut on Friday.
10. Recitation of the Angelus

16 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! […] May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs.”


11. Ecumenical Meeting in the Hall of Honor of the Syro-Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet

16 September 2012 [Full Text]

“Allow me to acknowledge here the testimony of faith shown by the Syrian Antiochene Church in the course of its glorious history, a testimony to an ardent love for Christ, which has caused it to write some heroic pages of this history, right up to the present, by remaining committed to the faith even to the point of martyrdom. I encourage this Church to be for the peoples of the region a sign of the peace that comes from God as well as a light that keeps their hope alive. I extend this encouragement to all the Churches and ecclesial communities present in the region.”


12. Departure ceremony at the Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport

16 September 2012 [Full Text]

“I pray to God for Lebanon, that she may live in peace and courageously resist all that could destroy or undermine that peace. I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it. I hope that Lebanon will fortify the communion among all her inhabitants, whatever their community or religion, that she will resolutely reject all that could lead to disunity, and with determination choose brotherhood. These are blossoms pleasing to God, virtues that are possible and that merit consolidation by becoming more deeply rooted. The Virgin Mary, venerated with devotion and tenderness by the faithful of the religious confessions here present, is a sure model for going forward in hope along the path of a lived and authentic brotherhood.”