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Lebanon’s politicians heap praise on pontiff

The Popemobile in the midst of throngs of cheering faithful. Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians, both Christian and Muslim, have been unanimous in welcoming Pope Benedict XVI, who wraps up a historic visit to Lebanon Sunday.

The pope’s visit “is positive and carries a blessing for the Lebanese formula [of coexistence],” Future Movement MP Nuhad Mashnouq, a Sunni, said in remarks Sunday.

He said that the “true purpose of the visit is addressing Christians in the Middle East via Lebanon.”

For his part, MP Yassin Jaber, a Shiite member of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s parliamentary bloc, said the pontiff’s visit “boosts Lebanese confidence in their homeland.”

Druze MP Talal Arslan praised the Roman Catholic prelate’s comments about the need to stop the flow of weapons into Syria, calling the pope the "messenger of peace, love, reason and rationality."

Antoine Saad, an Orthodox member of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s parliamentary bloc, said the pope’s visit augurs well for the country.

“Pope Benedict XVI’s visit lays the foundation for a promising future for Lebanon.”

“The visit comes during an exceptional moment in Lebanon’s modern history, especially since the region is growing and reaping the fruit of the Arab Spring,” he added.

Saad went on to say that the visit is also “a message to Christians in the region and the Middle East to engage more effectively and dynamically in the Arab Spring.”

Maurice Shaaban, speaking on behalf of the Lebanese Communist Party, welcomed the “pope’s visit to Lebanon, and his call for coexistence and denouncing extremism."

 

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