Two hundred Coptic Christians demonstrated in Nashville for peace in Egypt a few days ago. God bless them.
Here is the video.
Two hundred Coptic Christians demonstrated in Nashville for peace in Egypt a few days ago. God bless them.
Here is the video.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Rev 12: 17 – 18
A Novena is a nine-day prayer. The idea behind a nine-day prayer comes from the prayers of the Disciples, along with Our Lady, before Pentecost. It is also based on the Jesus’ many admonitions in the Gospels to pray to God the Father for our needs without ceasing.
It sometimes sounds in the Scriptures as if Jesus is telling us to nag God. His parables about the man who will not stop asking his neighbor to get up and give him bread and the reluctant judge tell us frankly that God responds to our repeated requests.
Another example in Scripture is Abraham, interceding for Sodom and Gomorra. He repeatedly asked God to spare the city if a certain number of righteous people were found there. Each time, God granted Abraham’s request, and each time Abraham asked again, this time with a lower number of righteous people. He finally received the promise that God would spare the cities if only 10 righteous people were found in them.
Sadly, there were not even that many.
However, the principle of praying repeatedly is well established in scripture.
The position that St Michael the Archangel occupies in the heavenly host is also well established. He is God’s warrior, the defender against Satan. I quoted one scripture about Michael above. But there are others scattered throughout scripture. Daniel refers to him several times in ways that show quite clearly that St Michael is our defender against the devil, as well as heaven’s.
Pope Leo XIII composed a powerful prayer to St Michael the Archangel that begins St Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle after he was given a vision of the evils to come in the 20th Century.
It appears that these 20th Century evils have taken root in human society and are expanding and bearing much evil fruit after their kind in the 21st Century, as well. Among these are the increasing and widespread violent persecution of Christians. Our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer every indignity possible in this life, including martyrdom.
This is happening today, right now, as we plan what we’re going to do for Labor Day and start looking ahead to football season.
A reader suggested that we commit ourselves to a Novena, a nine-day prayer, for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for Him.
I think it is the least we can do.
I chose the Novena to St Michael the Archangel because he is our protector against the devil. These attacks against Christians and Christianity are coming straight from Satan. As usually happens, he is not sending an army of demonic creatures to do his bidding. His army on this earth is almost always sin-sick human beings who are following the darkness rather than the light.
Most of these people don’t know who they are following. It is not necessary to give knowing assent to follow Satan. All you have to do to follow him is do his work and speak for his desires in this world.
The prayer that Pope Leo XIII composed has always seemed like a kind of exorcism to me; an exorcism that we all can access by simply asking St Michael to do the exorcising for us.
The Novena I’ve chosen for us to pray is the Novena to St Michael. It is almost eerie in the way it fits the persecution Christians are facing today.
I will post it every morning, beginning today, for nine days. Please pray it with the rest of us faithfully.
I took the liberty of choosing an intention for all of us. I pray for the conversion of the world, that from pole to pole, dateline to dateline, all with call out Jesus’ name.
Here is the Novena to St Michael.
Glorious Saint Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of His followers, against whom the powers of hell are unchained. Guard with special care our Holy Father, the Pope, and our bishops, priests, all our religious and lay people, and especially the children. Saint Michael, watch over us during life, defend us against the assaults of the demon, and assist us especially at the hour of death. Help us achieve the happiness of beholding God face to face for all eternity. Amen. Saint Michael, intercede for me with God in all my necessities, especially for the conversion of the world,that from pole to pole,dateline to dateline,all will call out Jesus' name. Obtain for me a favourable outcome in the matter I recommend to you. Mighty prince of the heavenly host, and victor over rebellious spirits, remember me for I am weak and sinful and so prone to pride and ambition. Be for me, I pray, my powerful aid in temptation and difficulty, and above all do not forsake me in my last struggle with the powers of evil. Amen.
One hundred thousand people are
Many more Christians are
Meanwhile, here in the “Christian” West, Christians are
Forced to violate their faith under penalty of law.
That is the message Vatican spokesman Msgr Silvano Maria Tomasi brought to the United Nations earlier this week. Msgr Tomasi expressed the Holy See’s “deep concern for violations of religious freedom and systematic attacks on Christian communities” in some part of the world. At the same time, he pointed out that “in some Western countries … a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.”
I think it is important to note that Msgr Tomasi was not merely protesting the violent persecution or the marginalization of Catholics. He was speaking out for the civil and human rights of all Christians, everywhere.
People who attack Christianity often try to divide us. For instance, several of the commenters on a recent post I wrote concerning a Christian basher and the Pentagon, tried to say that this Christian bashing wasn’t aimed at Catholics, but Evangelicals. The point, I presume, being that if someone attacks those “other” Christians, the rest of us should either join in with the attackers or at the very least turn our backs on the attacked.
I like Msgr Tomasi’s approach. It is the one I take on this blog. If you cut any Christian, anywhere, we all bleed. Because we are One Blood, and One Body, and that is the living body and blood of Christ in the world. Any persecuted Christian is my brother or sister.
Let me say that again: Any persecuted Christian is my brother or sister.
From Vatican Radio:
Vatican to UN: 100 thousand Christians killed for the faith each year
2013-05-28 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has expressed “deep concern” for violations of religious freedom and systematic attacks on Christian communities in regions of the world such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This was pointed out by Msgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi, who spoke Monday at the United Nations in Geneva.
“More than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year. Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders -as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo (Syria).
Several of these acts have been perpetrated in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the fruit of bigotry, intolerance, terrorism and some exclusionary laws. In addition, in some Western countries where historically the Christian presence has been an integral part of society, a trend emerges that tends to marginalize Christianity in public life, ignore historic and social contributions and even restrict the ability of faith communities to carry out social charitable services.
“It may be useful that the Delegation of the Holy See should recall some pertinent data on the current services to the human family carried out in the world by the Catholic Church without any distinction of religion or race. In the field of education, it runs 70,544 kindergartens with 6,478,627 pupils; 92,847 primary schools with 31,151,170 pupils; 43,591 secondary schools with 17,793,559 pupils. The Church also educates 2,304,171 high school pupils, and 3,338,455 university students. The Church’s worldwide charity and healthcare centres include: 5,305 hospitals; 18,179 dispensaries; 547 Care Homes for people with Leprosy; 17,223 Homes for the elderly, or the chronically ill or people with a disability; 9,882 orphanages; 11,379 creches; 15,327 marriage counseling; 34,331 social rehabilitation centres and 9,391 other kinds of charitable institutions. To such data about social action activity, there should be added the assistance services carried out in refugee camps and to internally displaced people and the accompaniment of these uprooted persons. This service certainly doesn’t call for discrimination against Christians.
Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News).- Arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has found a way to adjust its employee healthcare plan to delay potentially crippling fines for refusing to comply with the federal contraception mandate.
The company will now “shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months,” announced attorney Peter M. Dobelbower in a Jan. 10 statement.
“Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its healthcare plan,” Dobelbower said, adding that the retailer “will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties.”
By shifting its insurance plan year, the company will gain time in its battle against the federal contraception mandate, which would have taken effect for it on Jan. 1, 2013.
The controversial mandate, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, requires that employers provide insurance plans that offer contraceptives – including some drugs that can cause early abortions – and sterilization. (Read more here.)
>Religious leaders urged to fight global persecution
By Michelle Bauman
Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2013 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious leaders in America are being called upon by a U.S. congressman to advocate for those across the globe who are oppressed for their faith.
“We in the West must speak out on behalf of the persecuted church around the world,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) in a Jan. 9 letter to nearly 300 Protestant and Catholic leaders.
“If the faith community in the West isn’t engaged, are we surprised when government leaders turn a blind eye to matters of religious freedom?” he asked.
A long-time advocate of religious liberty, Wolf authored the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998 and currently co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
In his recent letter, he said that he plans to reintroduce a bill in the new Congress to create a special envoy in the State Department to advocate on behalf of persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia.
While such legislation passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support over a year and a half ago, it stalled in the Senate due to opposition from the State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry, who refused to hold a hearing on the legislation, he said.
While he acknowledged that a special envoy will not “single-handedly solve the problem,” Wolf stressed that it would be very helpful to have a high-level official focusing exclusively on religious minorities.
“Furthermore, to do nothing is simply not an option,” he said.
Calling American religious leaders to action, the congressman decried the “fear of persecution and outright violence or even death” that overshadows the Christmas season for believers in much of the world.
“Every day, around the world, men and women of faith are imprisoned, beaten, detained, tortured and even killed,” he said. (Read more here.)
However, in actual practice, religious institutions have been forced to shut down and individuals have lost their jobs all around the world when gay marriage has become the law.
Civil partnerships, which basically give the rights of gay marriage, but call it something else, have had the same effect.
Catholic Charities in Illinois and the District of Columbia have been forced to close their adoption agencies because of these changes in the law. Catholic Charities in Massachusetts was forced to close it adoption program because of anti-discrimination laws.
Now, Colorado is looking at a change in their law which would have similar results.
I have added emphasis by using bold type to the CNA article describing this. It reads in part:
Denver, Colo., Jan 18, 2013 / 12:02 am (CNA).- A new version of a proposed Colorado civil unions bill has dropped provisions that protect agencies from being forced to place children with same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples – a change that could put at risk Catholic Charities’ adoption and foster care services in the state.
Jennifer Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, told CNA Jan. 16 that there have been “significant” changes to the bill from last year’s version, which failed to pass.
If the legislation passes this year, civil unions for two people of any sex would be legally equivalent to marriage under state law. The 2012 Colorado Senate bill proposing to create the unions had stated that the bill “shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption” with a couple in a civil union.
That language, however, is absent from the 2013 bill, S.B. 11.
Kraska said this change means the legislation has the potential for “serious conflict with religious liberty” regarding religious institutions involved in charitable services as well as adoption and foster care.
Mark Rohlena, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, said if the bill passes it could threaten the religious liberty of agencies like his that decline to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples.
“We feel it would be a very sad commentary if Colorado forced religious institutions or those who believe in a different framework to do something against their conscience,” he told CNA Jan. 16.
If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, “we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.”
“That risk is always there,” he said. “I think that we would try to explore every avenue available to us to provide this vital service to the community.”
He said a shutdown is “very well what could happen” given precedents in other states.
When Illinois passed a civil unions bill in 2010, its backers promised that religious freedom would not be affected. However, the next year state officials used the law to end Catholic Charities agencies’ $30 million in state contracts for its work in caring for about 2,000 foster children each year. The state ruled that the agencies were discriminatory against unmarried couples and homosexual couples.
In 2010, a “gay marriage” law in the District of Columbia forced Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington to end its foster care and public adoption program because the law required it to serve homosexual couples.
Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law forced Catholic Charities of Boston to end its adoption program, one of the oldest in the country. (Read more here.)
US asked to intervene for Christian citizen jailed in Iran
Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2013 / 04:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith could face execution if the government is not pressured to release him, warned an international religious freedom advocacy group.
“As more individuals and governments around the world take notice of Pastor Saeed’s case, the pressure on Iran to release him and stop violating religious liberty will increase,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the Washington, D.C. – based American Center for Law and Justice.
In a Jan. 14 post on the law center’s website, Sekulow explained that immediate action is essential “as the Iranian regime is clearly bent on rushing through a sham trial that leaves counsel unprepared and in the dark about the nature of the charges against their client.”
Pastor Saeed Abedini, 32, is a U.S. citizen who initially invoked the anger of the Iranian government by helping start house churches after converting from Islam to Christianity.
However, the two parties arrived at an agreement in 2009 allowing the pastor to travel freely in the country if he stopped working with the underground churches. He instead turned his focus toward humanitarian efforts with non-religious orphanages.
Nevertheless, the pastor was arrested in September during a trip to work with those orphanages and visit family, the American Center for Law and Justice said, and he has been imprisoned illegally for more than three months.
Now, Sekulow warned, Abedini is scheduled to go on trial before one of Iran’s most notorious “hanging judges.” (Read more here.)
Prayer has been on our minds here at Patheos. One of our atheist colleagues has committed himself to the 40 Day Prayer Experiment. This caused quite a bit of comment and even derision among the faithful, including, at first, me. I saw it as mocking God. When my atheist blogger friend added a request that someone tell him about any miracles they’d seen, I was even more put out. “Putting God to the test.” I huffed.
What changed my attitude was … drumroll … prayer.
I prayed and got one of those thumps on the head that I so often get. It’s not my job to strip the hide off people who make fun of faith. Even more so, it’s not my job to just automatically assume that every effort to pray and see if God is really there is, in fact, mocking Him. It’s just possible that it’s honest inquiry by someone who’s open to admitting it when God answers them.
My job … itty, bitty ahem … is to be faithful and stand for Jesus. Oh, I can shut them down if they get abusive. Nobody has to take abuse for no good reason. But I can’t turn around and attack back. As for going out and starting the fight in the first place … nu-uh.
The interesting part of all this isn’t that I am, once again, proven to be a sinner who needs God’s help to get even the smallest things right. The interesting part is that this was a small-time miracle of grace. God thumped me on the head. Because of that unsolicited head thump, I deleted an atheist-bashing post I had already written and was feeling pretty proud of.
God thumped me on the head. Think about it.
While you’re thinking, consider the witness of Youcef Nadarkhani. Pastor Nadarkhani spent 1,000 days in an Iranian prison. He faced execution. All for the crime of mistakenly being identified as a convert to Christianity from Islam when he was, in fact, born into a Christian family.
If he was faking his faith, I imagine he would have recanted and given it up at some point in this ordeal. If he was, as some of our unbelieving friends try to claim, having delusions of religious experience, these delusions must have been consistently benign and durable.
They also must have been among the most positive, life-saving, emotionally healthy delusions on record. I say that because Pastor Nadarkhani came out of prison rejoicing in the power of prayer, grace and the real presence of Christ in our darkest corners.
“I have been put to the test, the test of faith, which is, according to Scriptures ‘more precious than perishable gold.’” he said. “But I have never felt loneliness … The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures say, ‘He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength. …”
All I can say is that must have been some mighty fine praying Pastor Nadarkhani and his supporters engaged in. It’s must also have been some mighty fine self-deluding.
I know that some people will disagree with me when I say this, and that is fine. But God is real, my friends. His miracles are all around us.
Read an article about Pastor Nadarkhani below.
TEHRAN (BP) — The Iranian pastor who spent more than 1,000 days in prison simply for being a Christian has written an open letter saying Christ provided for his needs while behind bars and thanking those around the world for praying for him.
“I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scriptures ‘more precious than perishable gold,’” the pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, wrote Sept. 8 in a letter that was translated into English. It was posted on the website of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ.org).
“But I have never felt loneliness, I was all the time aware of the fact that it wasn’t a solitary battle, for I have felt all the energy and support of those who obeyed their conscience and fought for the promotion of the justice and the rights of all human beings. … The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures say, ‘He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength. …”
Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 while registering his church in Rasht, Iran, although he initially was arrested for protesting his children being taught Islam in school, according to ACLJ. He was charged with apostasy for supposedly abandoning Islam and later was given a death sentence. (Read more here.)
by John Campbell
September 25, 2012
On Sunday, September 24, immediately after an early mass, a suicide bomber attacked St. John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bauchi. Five were reported killed with another forty-six injured. Doctors warn that many of the wounded are in bad condition, and may die. No part of Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement that targets the Nigerian political economy, has claimed responsibility. It is likely, however, that most Nigerians will impute to it the responsibility. The BBC, among other media, has stated that church bombings have waned while Boko Haram shifted its focus to communications towers. The Nigerian press, on the other hand, has reported attacks nearly every Sunday since at least the beginning of August.
The northern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella group that includes almost all of the Christian churches, appears to be working to dampen down Christian revenge against Muslims. Its spokesmen characterize the bombings as “a test of faith.” One CAN spokesman said, “Christians should look up to God, because vengeance is of God. We are not comfortable with the killing of Christians, but we leave everything to God. He has not failed us, and will not fail us.” (Read more here.)
The Holy Father made a statement on Vatican Radio yesterday calling for Christians and Muslims to unite against violence. Rather than discuss what he said, I decided to reproduce the article from Vatican Radio for you to read without editing. You can find the original on the Vatican website here.
Benedict XVI also expressed his profound gratitude for the fervent faith and witness of the thousands of Catholics from Lebanon and the Middle East who accompanied each stage of his visit. It is a sign of hope, he concluded “for the future of the Church in those lands: young people, adults and families motivated by a strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church”.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to briefly return, in my thoughts and heart, to those extraordinary days of my Apostolic journey to Lebanon. A trip that I had strongly wanted, despite the difficult circumstances, considering that a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems. I was moved by a sincere desire to announce the peace that the risen Lord gave to his disciples and summarized in the words “My peace I give to you – سلامي أعطيكم” (Jn 14:27). The main aim of my journey was the signing and consignment of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to the representatives of the Catholic communities of the Middle East, to other Churches and ecclesial communities as well as Muslim leaders.
It was a moving ecclesial event and, at the same time, a provident opportunity for dialogue lived in a complex but emblematic country for the entire region, because of its tradition of coexistence and fruitful cooperation between the different religious and social components. In the face of the suffering and tragedies that continue in that area of the Middle East, I expressed my heartfelt closeness to the legitimate aspirations of those dear people, bringing them a message of encouragement and peace. I am thinking in particular of the terrible conflict that torments Syria, causing, in addition to thousands of deaths, a stream of refugees that pours into the region desperately seeking security and a future; neither have I forgotten the plight of Iraq. During my visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East – Catholics, representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the various Muslim communities – enthusiastically and in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere, experienced the importance of mutual respect, understanding and brotherhood, which is a strong sign of hope for all humanity. But it was the encounter with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East, present in their thousands, which aroused in me a feeling of deep gratitude for the ardor of their faith and their witness.
I thank the Lord for this precious gift, which gives hope for the future of the Church in those areas: youth, adults and families motivated by the strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church. I renew my gratitude also to all who worked tirelessly for my visit: the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon with their staff, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, consecrated persons and the lay faithful, which are a precious and meaningful reality in Lebanese society. I was able to observe firsthand that the Lebanese Catholic communities, through their presence and their millennial commitment full of hope, offer a significant and valued contribution to the daily lives of all the inhabitants of the country. My respect and gratitude go to the Lebanese authorities, institutions and associations, volunteers and all those who have offered their support in prayer. I can not forget the warm welcome I received from the President of the Republic, Mr. Michel Sleiman, as well as the various components of the country and the people: it was a warm welcome, in line with the famous Lebanese hospitality. Muslims welcomed me with great respect and sincere consideration, their constant presence and participation gave me the opportunity to launch a call to dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam: it seems to me that the time has come for us to give a decided and sincere witness together against the divisions and wars. The Catholics, who also came from neighboring countries, fervently expressed their deep affection for the Successor of Peter.
After the beautiful ceremony on my arrival at Beirut airport, the first meeting was of particular solemnity: the signing of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, in the Greek-Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa. On that occasion I invited Catholics in the Middle East to fix their gaze on Christ Crucified to find the strength, even in difficult and painful contexts, to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge and unity over division. I assured them all that the universal Church is closer than ever, with affection and prayer, to the Church in the Middle East: they, despite being a “little flock”, need not fear, knowing that the Lord is always with them. The Pope does not forget them.
On the second day of my Apostolic Journey I met the representatives of the institutions of the Republic and the world of culture, the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. To them, among others, I pointed a way forward to promote a future of peace and solidarity: this means working so that cultural, social and religious differences result in a sincere dialogue, a new fraternity, united by a shared sense of the greatness and dignity of every person, whose life must always be defended and protected. On the same day I had a meeting with the heads of Muslim religious communities, which took place in a spirit of dialogue and mutual benevolence. I thank God for this meeting. The world today needs clear and strong signs of dialogue and cooperation, of which Lebanon has been and must continue to be an example to the Arab countries and the rest of the world.
In the afternoon, at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch, I was greeted by the irrepressible enthusiasm of thousands of young people from Lebanon and from neighboring countries, who gave rise to a moment of great celebration and prayer, that will remain unforgettable for many. I pointed out their good fortune to live in that part of the world that saw Jesus, Crucified and Risen for our salvation, and the development of Christianity, exhorting them to fidelity and love for their land, despite the difficulties caused by the lack of stability and security. In addition, I encouraged them to be firm in their faith, trusting in Christ, the source of our joy, and to deepen their personal relationship with Him in prayer, as well as to be open to the great ideals of life, family, friendship and solidarity. Seeing young Christians and Muslims celebrate in great harmony, I encouraged them to build together the future of Lebanon and the Middle East and to oppose violence and war. Harmony and reconciliation must be stronger than the forces of death.
On Sunday morning, there was a very intense moment of great participation in the Holy Mass at the City Center Waterfront in Beirut, accompanied by evocative hymns and chants, which also characterized other celebrations. In the presence of many bishops and a large crowd of faithful from all over the Middle East, I urged everyone to live and to witness their faith without fear, knowing that the vocation of the Christian and the Church is to bring the Gospel to all without distinction, following the example of Jesus in a context marked by bitter conflicts, I drew attention to the need to serve peace and justice by becoming instruments of reconciliation and builders of communion. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I had the joy of presenting the Apostolic Exhortation which gathers the conclusions of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Through the Patriarchs and Eastern and Latin Bishops, priests, religious and laity, this Document wants to reach all the faithful of that dear land, to support them in their faith and communion and encourage them on the path of the much hoped for new evangelization. In the afternoon, at the headquarters of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, I then had the joy of a fraternal ecumenical meeting with the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs and representatives of those Churches, as well as other Ecclesial Communities.
Dear friends, the days spent in Lebanon were a wonderful manifestation of faith and religious feeling and a prophetic sign of peace. The multitude of believers from the entire Middle East, had the opportunity to reflect, to talk and especially to pray together, renewing their commitment to root their lives in Christ. I am sure that the people of Lebanon, in its varied but well blended religious and social composition, will know how to witness with renewed impetus to the true peace that comes from faith in God. I hope that the messages of peace and respect that I wanted to give, will help governments of the region to take decisive steps towards peace and a better understanding of the relationship between Christians and Muslims. For my part, I continue to accompany those beloved people in prayer, so that they remain faithful to their commitments. To the maternal intercession of Mary, venerated in so many and ancient Lebanese shrines, I entrust the fruits of this pastoral visit, as well as the good intentions and the just aspirations of the entire Middle East.