By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Visiting Pope Benedict XVI has urged multifaith Lebanon to be a model of peace and religious coexistence for the Middle East.
Speaking in Beirut, the Roman Catholic pontiff told a gathering of Lebanese political, religious, and cultural leaders that religious freedom was a basic right for all people.
“Lebanon is called, now more than ever, to be an example,” he said, asking 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.”
The pope’s trip, now in its second day, is the first by a pope to Lebanon in 15 years.
His visit comes amid fears the bloodshed in neighboring Syria could spill over into Lebanon.
It also comes amid growing protests in the Muslim world over a privately made video that is insulting to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.