Papal visit to shore up situation in Lebanon, the last, best hope for preserving Christianity in the middle east.

The pope arrived in Harissa on time at 6 p.m. to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East, and was greeted by Lebanese and Vatican flags as well as banners bearing the word “peace” in multiple languages.

Gathered opposite the church on chairs set out for the event, visitors said the pope’s visit was a sign that Christians would retain a presence in Lebanon despite their uncertain future in the rest of the region.

“If Christians remain here [in Lebanon], the whole region will become better and different,” said Tony Haddad, who came to catch a glimpse of the pope from the nearby town of Bzommar.

Haddad, who described the visit as historic, said that Vatican’s concern for the people of Lebanon and the region means it has blessed the country and will not abandon it, despite unrest in the Middle East.

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