This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father received in audience His excellency Mr. Michel Sleiman, president of Lebanon. President Sleiman then met with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial talks, discussion touched on the situation in the country, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and collaboration among the members of the various ethnic and religious communities that make up the nation's society and constitute its richness. Likewise, the common good, development, and the nation's stability were also considered. In that regard, best wishes were expressed for the formation of a new government that will have to face the important challenges in the national arena as well as in the international sphere.
The regional situation was also discussed, referencing in particular the conflict in Syria. The enormous number of Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Lebanon and neighbouring countries arouses much worry. Greater humanitarian assistance, with the help of the international community, was requested for the welcoming countries as well as for the suffering peoples. At the same time, the desire for a rapid and beneficial resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, evermore necessary for the peace and stability of the region, was expressed.
Finally, the delicate situation of Christians throughout the Middle East was not overlooked as well as the meaningful contribution that they can offer in light of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”, which constitutes an important point of reference for Catholic communities and societies of that region.