September 15, 2012. (Romereports.com)
Benedict XVI met with thousands of young people from Lebanon and throughout the Middle East in the Maronite patriarchate square of Bkerké.
Among those in attendance were young people from Syria. The Pope told them that he is very concerned by the conflict there and that he admired their courage. He also noted the closeness he felt toward their suffering.
"In your homes, tell your families and friends, that the Pope does not forget you. Say in your communities that the Pope is sad because of your suffering and mourning. He does not forget you in his prayers and Syria is one of his concerns. He doesn't forget any of the suffering in the Middle East. It is the time when Muslims and Christians unite to end violence and war."
The Pope reminded them that the Middle East is where Jesus was born and where Christianity began. He then quoted John Paul II, telling them not to be afraid and to open their lives to God.
He also addressed the young Muslims in attendance, telling them their relationship with Christians is the future of their county and for the entire region. He then invited all of them to use their youth in fulfilling their dreams and to cultivate friendships with others, saying this would help end division and confrontation.
"The beauty of Lebanon is located in this beautiful symbiosis. It is necessary that the entire Middle East, seeing this understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live together without hatred, respecting beliefs of each, to build together a free and humane society."
Benedict also noted the difficulties that new generations of Lebanese face such as unemployment, marginalization and loneliness. He encouraged them to be an example of hope for their country.
"Neither unemployment nor precariousness should stir you to try the 'bitter honey' of emigration, with the uprooting and separation toward an uncertain future. It is you who will be the architects of the future of your country, and you will fulfill your role in society and in the Church."
Amid the festive atmosphere, Benedict also encouraged them to discover the value of forgiveness and reconciliation, saying it was the true path to peace and the future.