Two children with traditional outfits greeted Benedict XVI and handed him flowers with the colors of the Vatican flag.
After the national anthem, the president spoke in Arabic and thanked the Pope for his visit. He noted that his country is a model of coexistence and unity and diversity.
Lebanon is the country with the most Christians in the Middle East. According to the Constitution, the president must be Christian, while the prime minister and the speaker of parliament must both be Muslim.
In his first speech in the country, Benedict XVI expressed concern over the plight of some Middle East countries.
“Sometimes there is a threat toward breaking the equilibrium when there is tension like in a bow, or subjected to pressures that are too often partisan, certainly interested, contrary and foreign to the harmony and sweetness of the Lebanese people. It is therefore necessary to provide proof of true moderation and great wisdom. And the reason must prevail over unilateral passion to promote the common good of all.”
While the pope was still in flight to Beirut, he asked for a halt of sending arms to Syria.
At the airport, he said he traveled to Lebanon to sign a document addressed to all Christians in the Middle East, and to bring a message of peace and understanding to all Middle East countries.
“Beyond your country, I come symbolically today to all Middle East countries, as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God, and as a friend of all people in all countries in the region, regardless of who they are and their beliefs.”
The Pope also called on the Lebanese people to remain an example of cooperation and tolerance between religions. The official Lebanese delegation, included four Catholic Patriarchs of Lebanon, as well as four major Muslim leaders. It was symbolic of the history of Lebanon where Muslims and Christians have lived together in peace for centuries.