Pope Invited to Visit Lebanon

Proposed as Venue to Present Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Lebanon's prime minister, Najib Mikati, was received in audience by Pope Benedict XVI on Monday. 

In an interview with Vatican Radio before the meeting the political leader said he would invite the Pope to visit his country as soon as possible. In October 2010 a synod of bishops was held to discuss the situation of the Church in the Middle East. Mikati offered Lebanon as the place where the post-synodal exhortation could be presented. 

No official date has been set for the exhortation's publication but a number of press reports say that it could come out next April.

According to Vatican Radio, Mikati also said that Christians in Lebanon could provide an example to others on how to move toward democracy.

The meeting with the Pope lasted for 20 minutes. Afterward the Pope greeted a number of family members and other officials who formed part of the delegation led by Mikati.

"The cordial discussions served to highlight the role Lebanon plays in the region and in the entire world, and its vocation to offer a message of freedom and respectful coexistence among the various Christian and Muslim communities who live there," commented a release published by the Holy See's press office following the audience with the Pope.

According to the release one of the topics discussed was the "delicate situation in Syria." The press office said that in the encounter between the Pope and Lebanon's prime minister "emphasis was given to the vital need for all parties to commit themselves to peaceful coexistence founded on justice, reconciliation, and respect for the dignity of human beings and their inalienable rights."

After meeting with the Pope, the prime minister met with the Holy Father's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.