Pope appeals for peace in Lebanon visit

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BEIRUT — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace today at a time of deep turmoil in the Middle East, calling the flow of weapons into Syria a “grave sin” as the country endures a bloody civil war.

The pope arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit despite the recent unrest in region.

Just hours after his arrival, violence erupted in northern Lebanon over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States called “Innocence of Muslims.”

The pope denounced religious fundamentalism, calling it “a falsification of religion.”

He also praised the Arab Spring uprisings, which have ousted four long-time dictators. The turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring has deeply unsettled the Middle East’s Christian population, which fears being in the cross-fire of rival Muslim groups.

Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Mideast — nearly 40 percent of Lebanon’s 4 million people. Lebanon is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state.

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