War begins with words, warns Lebanese Cardinal

Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir has warned that insult laden politicians' speeches indicate "that war will soon ignite" in Lebanon, as Pope Benedict renews his call for urgent and just solutions to "this grave moment" in the Middle East.

In remarks made to an estimated 40,000 tourists and pilgrims gathered on 10 December in St Peter's Square for the midday Angelus, the Pope urged Lebanon's leaders to work towards building unity in the country and the international community to meet its responsibilities and commit to work toward a lasting peace, Catholic Online reports.

"I appeal to the Lebanese and to their political leaders to be interested exclusively in the good of the country and harmony between its communities, inspiring their commitment in that unity that is the responsibility of one and all, and that requires patient and persevering efforts, along with confident and permanent dialogue," the pope said.

The people of Lebanon, the Pontiff said, "on whose soil today as yesterday, men who are different on the cultural and religious plane, are called to live together to build a nation of dialogue and coexistence, and to favour the common good."

The Middle East is beset with tensions where the possibilities for a solution face the challenges of "fears of new violence," he said.

Also speaking on Sunday, Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir warned that the exchange of sharp speeches by rival political leaders could ignite war, Naharnet reports.

"What we see today ... warns of evil," Cardinal Sfeir told worshipers at a Sunday mass in Bkirki.

"As the poet says, war starts with words," warned Cardinal Sfeir. "Listening to all the showering (of speeches) which is loaded with insults and dirt indicates that war will soon ignite, God forbid."

"We ask God to lighten the minds of those in charge (political leaders) to have mercy on the people tolerating injustice," Cardinal Sfeir added.

"No one thinks about the (Lebanese) people," he said, "whose only worry is finding a source of income and meeting the various daily needs of their children."

"Most of the people are unable to meet these needs since the public and private sectors as well as the economic, and we may even say social, activities have been completely paralysed," the Cardinal added.

Build unity, peace solutions at Lebanon's 'grave moment,' pope tells nation, int'l leaders (Catholic Online, 11/12/06)
Sfeir: War Starts with Words (Naharnet, 11/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal Pierre Nasrallah Sfeir
Maronite Church, Lebanon

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12 Dec 2006