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Pope: Multi-faith Lebanon should be model for Middle East

Hasan Shaaban / Reuters

Faithful wave Lebanese and Vatican City flags amid confetti upon Pope Benedict XVI's arrival in his pope mobile at the Baabda Presidential Palace near Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 15. Pope Benedict is in Lebanon on a three-day visit.

Christianity and Islam have lived together in Lebanon for centuries, he (the pope) said, sometimes within one family. "If this is possible within the same family, why should it not be possible at the level of the whole of society?" he asked.

"Lebanon is called, now more than ever, to be an example," he said, inviting his audience "to testify with courage, in season and out of season, wherever you find yourselves, that God wants peace, that God entrusts peace to us".

-- Reported by Reuters

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Alessandra Tarantino / AP

Youth wait for Pope Benedict XVI in Bkerke, Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 15. Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for religious freedom in the Middle East, calling it fundamental for stability in a region bloodied by sectarian strife. Benedict arrived in Lebanon Friday amid a wave of violent protests across the Middle East over an anti-Islam film.

L'Osservatore Romano / AP

Pope Benedict XVI meets religious authorities at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 15. Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace and reconciliation among religions Friday as violence over an anti-Islam movie spilled over into Lebanon within hours of his arrival in the tumultuous region. Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Mideast — nearly 40 percent of the country's 4 million people, with Maronite Catholics being the largest sect.