Pope leading open-air Mass in Beirut-A A +A
Sunday, September 16, 2012
BEIRUT — Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass Sunday for tens of thousands of pilgrims from across the Middle East in the major public event of his three-day visit to Lebanon to press for peace and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.
Helicopters flew overhead and soldiers set up roadblocks and patrolled streets in downtown Beirut.
The crowd cheered and waved tiny Vatican and Lebanese flags as Benedict arrived in his bullet-proof popemobile at the Mass site on the Beirut waterfront.
Benedict has been appealing for tolerance and religious freedom.
At a meeting with young people Saturday evening, the pope said he admired the courage of Syrian youth and that he did not forget their suffering.
The papal visit comes amid soaring sectarian tensions in the region, exacerbated by the conflict in Syria, which is in the throes of an 18-month-old civil war. (AP)