Corruption and Chaos but Pope keeps the faith in the Holy Lands
Papal Middle Eastern tours across the ages: How have the reigning Pope and the late Pope John Paul II fared in the Holy Land? In light of the recent Lebanon trip that captivated the Middle East's flock, wherein Pope Benedict XVI hailed the mountainous Mediterranean country as a beacon of inter-confessional coexistence, we take a look at papal Middle East tours past and present.
The Pope pontificates from Lebanon to Morocco Continue reading below »
Like editors of Vogue magazine, the man sitting at the top seat in the Holy See - no stranger to dictators - has the ability, it seems, to meet murderers and not be stained with blood. That may very well be, however, because of the fact constantly pointed out to the world by the Vatican's minders: that the Pope's messages are above day-to-day politics, and constantly bring a message of hope and love to those who speaks to. Indeed, the Pope - commonly 'Ba-Ba' or Father to the Arab world - did bend over backwards to make it clear to people living in Arab countries that they needed to "love thy neighbour"--thy Christian neighbour, thy Muslim neighbour, thy Bahai neighbour. It was an important message to keep in mind, and one that may have had some influence on the flow of events in countries outraged by a recent C-movie, but also had a more persistent message for Lebanon and the multi-confessional Lebanese.
Much has changed since the last time a Pope--John Paul II at the time--visited Lebanon, in 1997. At the time, Samir Geagea, now a Lebanese MP and leader of the Lebanese Forces political party, had been in prison, with the country firmly under Syrian tutelage. Today, Lebanon's political scene is as riotous as ever, while the Syrian regime is facing its own domestic problems. This got a brief show-in during the Pontiff's Mass on the Seafront (is Lebanon the only country in the world where the faithful come to worship on the beach?), but one little incident which involved Lebanon, Samir Geagea and happened in mid September did not get a mention by the Holy Father: the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
What do you think of the Pope's role in keeping the 'peace' in the Middle East today? Should the Pope have more of a political role to play?