Pope Benedict XVI made a sweeping appeal today for peace in Syria and the Middle East, decrying the violence "which generates so much suffering." Speaking at an open-air Mass before a huge crowd in Beirut, he urged the international community and Arab countries in particular to find a solution to end the conflict in neighboring Syria. "Why so much horror? Why so many dead?" Benedict asked, lamenting that "the first victims are women and children."
With pilgrims from across the Middle East in the crowd, he said Christians must do their part to end the "grim trail of death and destruction" in the region. "I appeal to you all to be peacemakers," Benedict said. Benedict spoke from an altar built on land reclaimed with debris from Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, pressing ahead with his call for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. Benedict said that justice and peace are needed in building "a fraternal society, for building fellowship." The crowd cheered and waved tiny Vatican and Lebanese flags as Benedict arrived in his popemobile at the Mass site on the Beirut waterfront. At a meeting with young people last evening, the pope said he admired the courage of Syrian youth and that he did not forget their suffering.