Pope calls for end to arms deliveries to syria

pope calls for end to arms deliveries to syria

Instead of weapons, the country needs creativity and ideas for peace," the head of the catholic church said on friday at the start of his three-day trip to the crisis region.

The pope thus underscored his message of peace. First stop on his visit is the pilgrimage site of harissa, about 30 kilometers northeast of the capital beirut. In the evening, benedict solemnly signed the middle east document on the difficult situation of the christians in the region and the desired closer cooperation between the religions. The final document of the middle east synod of bishops two years ago is the official reason for the trip.

Most of the weapons used by the militant opponents of president baschar al-assad come from the syrian army. In some cases, opposition forces also received firearms and armored vehicles from abroad, financed by syrian exiles and sympathizers in the arab gulf states. The syrian regime obtains its rustic goods mainly from russia.

On his arrival in beirut, the pope said: "I come symbolically as a pilgrim of peace for all the countries of the middle east and as a friend of all their inhabitants, wherever they come from and whatever they believe."The pope had already called on christians in the predominantly muslim countries of the middle east to stay. Because their efforts for dialogue and reconciliation are important for peace.

The document of the synod of bishops on the middle east should be an act of hope. The church has heard the "cry of anguish and the look of despair of so many men and women," the pope said, commenting on the comprehensive analysis of the problems of christians who are hindered in the practice of their religion. The letter aims at a genuine interreligious dialogue and also wants to contribute to ecumenism. Benedict will hand over the document at sunday mass, the high point of his trip.

In the document, the catholic church not only complains about the lack of peace in the middle east. It also addresses the dangers of religious fundamentalism, prompted by economic and political uncertainties. Jewish, christian and muslim religious leaders are called upon to do everything possible to eradicate this threat, he said. The paper calls religious freedom the "summit of all freedoms," advocates dialogue among all, and seeks to ensure that christians do not continue to leave the region but join with other religions in trying to make peace.

Visit overshadowed not only by civil war in neighboring syria. Violent protests erupted in libya, egypt and other muslim-majority countries in response to a viral video from the U.S. Denigrating the prophet mohammed.

Eager for dialogue with islam, benedict meets with muslim leaders in lebanon at the presidential palace in baabda. A conversation with president michel suleiman, a maronite christian, is also on the agenda. Suleiman had received the pope at the airport. A sunday mass in beirut is then the high point of the 24. Pope’s trip abroad. Benedict is coming as a church leader, not as a politician, vatican spokesman federico lombardi had affirmed.

The vatican had stressed on tuesday that the usual security measures for beirut had not been taken. However, for every papal visit, the host country takes the strictest precautions to protect the pope. "All security forces are deployed to guarantee a safe visit by the pope," said interior minister marwan charbel.

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