Bkerke Youth Gathering:
To watch the visit through live streaming please click on this link
Pope Benedict XVI arrived on board the Papa Mobili as crowds waved the Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi, Vatican and other flags from Arab countries. President of the Republic, General Michel Sleiman arrived earlier in Bkerke aboard a
military chopper, amid cheering crowds chanting welcoming slogans, to participate in the
gathering of Pope Benedict XVI with the youth at Bkerke. The President entered Bkerke's courtyard on foot and shook hands with the gathering youth.
Balloons arranged in the shape of rosary beads were suspended over the
grand stage erected for the occasion and Christian charity groups
organized a number of performances in honor of the pontiff, the third
pope to visit Lebanon.
Celebrations followed as youth walked towards the Pope bearing gifts.
Patriarch Beshara Rai
delivered the welcoming speech saying that this celebration will prove vital in
strengthening faith and hope in the future among the youth. "These young people are hungry for hope during accelerating events constantly appealed hope and concern at once. They aspire a life of peace, justice and stability to be able to achieve themselves in their own countries and avoid emigration.
With you, your holiness, we send them the words of the Apostle John: "You are strong and the word of God abideth in you," Rai said. Addressing the youth Rai said that they must preserve coexistence & respect one another
despite differences for the culture of peace to prevail in the region.
He then presented the Pope a symbolic
gift; a fossil dating back 1 hundred million years. In turn the Supreme Pontiff also reciprocated a
For his part Bishop George Abou Jaoude also delivered a word,
stressing the Lebanese youth's awareness of their duty to build the
In a word addressing the occasion, the Pope called for peace to be among the gatherers, saying: "O God, extend your blessing to the youth through the Holy
Spirit so they can grow closer to you and believe in Jesus Christ
who is beside you forever and ever. Amen."
"You live in a region that witnessed the
birth of Jesus Christ; you should continuously bear witness to Christ’s love in order
to reach true freedom. Do not be afraid, you are in my heart and in the Church’s heart; open your hearts to Jesus Christ," he said.
In his most prominent word, the Pope called on all Lebanese youth not to emigrate, urging them instead to remain in Lebanon and "create the future" of the country.
On Syria, he said: "the time has come for Muslims and Christians to come together to end violence
and wars; I appreciate the courage of Syrian youth and Syria is constantly in my
He then thanked everyone including officials, organizers, political and religious leaders, the youth, the Lebanese people and the entire country and proceeded to conduct mass as Majida Roumi chanted hymns and celebratory songs.
Earlier the Pope arrived to the Dining Hall of the Armenian Catholic
Patriarchate in Bzommar, where a lunch banquet was held with various
Patriarchs and Bishops, Members of the Special Assembly of the Synod of
Bishops for the Middle East, and the
Papal Retinue. The Holy See beseeched God to bless the Armenian
that has "suffered a lot as to grant hope and strength again for those
who are desperate".
The Pope then unveiled the statue of monk
Hagop Meghabard who printed the first book in the Armenian language, in
the presence of Armenian Catholic Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX and
Monastery Head Gabriel Moradian.
Following the unveiling ceremony,
Patriarch Nerses and Moradian offered the Pope a memorial gift,
tantamount to a small model of Monk Meghabard.
Patriarch Nerses regarded the Pope's visit as a "blessing to Lebanon in general and the Armenian people in particular."
The pontiff also expressed his appreciation to the superior of the convent of Notre Dame of Bzommar.
The Pope's first stop during the day was at the Baabda Presidential Palace where President Sleiman and First Lady,
Wafaa Sleiman, received his holiness, with the President's grandsons handing him
flowers and the Pope blessing their communion. Sleiman and the Supreme Pontiff exchanged souvenirs with Sleiman handing him the first set of printed commemorative stamps, marking the Pope's visit to Lebanon.
Later, the President accompanied the Supreme Pontiff to the Ambassadors' Hall, where the pair held a meeting. Pope Benedict then met with Speaker Nabih Berri, PM Najib Mikati and religious
Pope Benedict XVI also met with senior
heads of Islamic sects, notably Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammed
Rashid Qabbani, Vice Head of the Islamic Supreme Shiite Council Sheikh
Abdel Amir Qabalan, Druze Sheikh Akl Naiim Hassan and Alawite Islamic
Council Head Sheikh Asad Assi.
Mufti Qabbani handed a 5 page letter to the Pope stating reassurances on the safety of Christians. In the letter, Qabbani stressed that any attack against the Christians is an attack against the Muslims, noting that “both sides will build their future together”.
The letter also welcomed the Pope's visit to Lebanon, and the positive initiatives of the Apostolic Exhortation.
Qabbani expressed his regret toward what Christians had been through across Eastern nations, saying "we have raised our voice denouncing and rejecting the attacks targeting Christians, which are often fabricated by local or foreign powers to cause sedition in line of their own interests”, adding that such actions do not only harm the Christian – Muslim coexistence, but also contradict with the values of Islam.
The Mufti then explained that the reason why he hadn't been among the receivers of the Pope at the airport, saying that he was overtaken with prayer.
The meeting took place in the presence of Apostolic Chair Secretary,
Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rai, Head of the Papal Council for
Dialogue among Religions Jean Louis Tauran and Papal Nuncio Gabriel
The Pope later planted a "Cedar of Friendship" in the Presidents' Garden in the presence of President Sleiman and his wife.
Papal word at Baabda:
Benedict then took to the speakers podium, expressing thanks for "the warm reception". "I ask God to bless this nation and region, I ask that peace be delivered to the people of Lebanon as Jesus Christ gave his disciples." He then stressed on the importance of unity to achieve peace.
"Greatness in only granted to an individual by the power of the Lord, we must reflect greatness through our work. We must unify our efforts to broker peace," he stressed.
"We are all responsible for protecting the sanctity of life. Family is the basis of all societies, and just like families, we must learn to coexist with one another, regardless of our 'necessary' differences," he added.
The Lebanese people faced a lot of suffering and tragedies; I ask God to bless this multi-confessional country. Every person’s future depends on peace; peace only prevails when society is unified, when every person preserves his dignity. There are countries suffering from poverty, unemployment and terrorism leading to unacceptable pain for people who turn into victims. Every human being is a member of humanity; we must try to unite and spread the culture of peace and family values, through teaching children the meaning of peace at school and at home. The economic rationale imposes a constant burden but the loss of every human being is a loss for humanity as a whole. Only equality can face violations; we must cooperate to restore harmony among humans.
[For the full speech please click on this link
"Implementing peace will allow us to direct our attention to the less fortunate members of society. Evil comes only through choice, but the love of God will help us transcend this evil," Benedict added. "Man can only lose upon choosing hatred over love," he said.
Sleiman's word at Baabda:
Prior to the Papal word, President Sleiman also delivered a speech whereby he said that the naturalization of Palestinian refugees must be prevented.
"We face many challenges, including the implementation of UNSCR 1701, another main challenge is the prevention of Israeli attacks against Lebanon," he added.
Early on crowds lined up along the
coastal road from Jounieh to Beirut to wave to the Holy See as he passed through aboard the Papa Mobili. The crowd also hoisted pictures of Pope Benedict and President Michel Sleiman and tossed flowers at the Sayyad intersection. At the Baabda Presidential Palace
thousands of Lebanese people, representing the nation's diverse
national fabric, assembled to welcome and
greet Pope Bendict XVI.
The Pope had celebrated a mass at the Papal Embassy in
Harissa, before heading for Baabda Palace where he was welcomed by Lebanese Folklore teams.
On his first day
in Lebanon, he signed the Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod
of Bishops, in the presence of the President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman,
as well as senior political and religious officials.
The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, held a press conference at Phoenicia Hotel during which he briefed the public on the first part of the Pope's second day to Lebanon. The father pointed out that the Pope was "deeply moved" by the reception of the Lebanese crowds alongside the reception at the Presidential Palace.
"A very important incident took place today, the Holy Pope held a meeting with heads of Muslim communities in Lebanon to enhance dialogue with other religious communities. The Pope appreciated their presence while signing the Apostolic Exhortation and at the welcoming ceremony," Father Lombardi added.
As for the memorandum that the Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani delivered to the Pope, Father Lombardi said: "the memorandum emphasized on three points; the first is related to Christian presence in the Middle East, the second emphasizes mutual respect and the principles of coexistence, and the third comes in support for the Patriarch's slogan " Partnership and love".
Commenting on Benedict's first day, the Pope's Spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi stated that “a prophet has no arms and no political agenda.” And “the Pope’s message is the sheer fact he is here today.” The Pope attended many “positive meetings”,
but the real the “strength of his presence here over the next couple of days
are not so much his words but his actual being here," Lombardi continued.
Lombardi assured that the Pope “was informed this morning” about “the
person that died in Tripoli," in Northern Lebanon, during the
demonstration against the US-produced film which insulted the prophet
Muhammad. For the full statement please click on this link.
Road deviations remain in check for today
, for the set road deviations throughout the Papal visit please click here