Photos: Pope Benedict XVI Conducts Open-Air Mass in Beirut
By Geetha Pillai | Sep 16, 2012 08:10 PM EDT
Pope Benedict XVI has conducted an open-air mass on the Beirut waterfront and prayed for peace and harmony in the Middle East.
"In a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary," said Benedict, leading the mass.
"I pray to the Lord specifically to make the Middle East servants of peace and reconciliation so that everyone can live in tranquillity and dignity."
Hundreds of thousands of Christians from across the Middle East braved the scorching heat to take part in the mass.
Benedict is on the final leg of his three-day visit to Lebanon, where one-third of the population is Christian.
The trip was aimed at promoting peace and harmony among religions, and the peaceful co-existence of different faiths.
As part of his visit, the pontiff met Lebanese political leaders including President Michel Sleiman (a Maronite Christian), Prime Minister Najib Mikati (a Sunni Muslim) and the Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (a Shi'ite Muslim). He also met MPs, cabinet ministers and religious leaders.
The 85-year-old leader of the Catholic Church urged multi-faith Lebanon to become a model for the rest of Middle East.
"In Lebanon, Christianity and Islam have lived in the same space for centuries," said the Pope at the presidential palace.
"It is not unusual to find, in the same family, both religions. If this is possible in one single family, why would it be impossible at the level of the society as a whole?"
On the first day of his visit to Lebanon, Benedict called for a halt to the export of weapons to Syria, and an end to that country's 19 months of violent civil strife.
He called the sale of weapons to Syria a "grave sin".
The Pope's visit to Lebanon coincided with protests across the Islamic world against the US-made anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims.
Scroll through the pictures to follow the Pope's visit to Lebanon and the open air mass in Beirut:
Christians greet Pope Benedict before his open-air mass on Beirut City Center WaterfrontSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Christians hold up Iraqi and Kurdish national flags, along with Pope Benedict pictures, upon his arrival at Beirut City Centre WaterfrontSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI waves from his Pope-mobileSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
A Lebanese Army soldier looks on as Pope Benedict XVI addresses the faithful at Beirut City Centre WaterfrontSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful from his Pope-mobile in BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI meets the faithful at Bkerke, north of BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Artists perform as Pope Benedict XVI and Gregorios III, Patriarch of the Church of Antioch, attend a meeting with youths at Bkerke, near BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI attends a meeting with youths with Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir, retired patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, at Bkerke, near BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
The faithful gather to greet Pope Benedict XVI at Bkerke in Harissa, near BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the Pope-mobile for a meeting with young people at Bkerke in Harissa, near BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012
Pope Benedict XVI accompanies Lebanon's President Suleiman on arrival at the Baabda Presidential Palace near BeirutSource: Reuters Date:09/16/2012