Amidst the tumult and chaos of the Middle East Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI in Lebanon, called upon an audience of Muslim and Christian youth “to live in unity and harmony,” reminding them that “you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East” and that young Christians and Muslims must “seek to build it up together.”
Lebanon, which is bordered by Syria and Israel, has the largest Christian population in the Middle East with Christians making up 40 percent of its population. The Christian element is diverse, with 12 different Catholic and Orthodox groups, five Muslim groups and a Jewish community.
“Christ asks you,” the Pope said, “to do as he did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different religious or national group, making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord.”
Unfortunately, the extensive media coverage of the Islamic demonstrations triggered by a video produced in the United States that vilified Mohammed, resulted in the coverage of the Papal visit being ignored or buried. It is always difficult to hear the voice of reason in the midst of angry shouting, but the Pope’s message is clear.
“Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, to build together a free and humane society.”
The alternative is unthinkable.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish