Last updated: 18 September, 2012

Syrian Christian opposition leader to meet the Pope

Syrian Christian opposition leader George Sabra will meet Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday as part of an international group of Christian-Democrats, Italian media and the Syrian National Council said Tuesday.

Sabra, who is spokesman for the SNC, the main exiled opposition group, will be received with some 100 other Christian politicians from around the world, ANSA and Adnkronos news agencies reported.

The audience will be held at the pope’s summer residence near Rome.

The pope last week travelled to Lebanon on a three-day visit in which he condemned religious fundamentalism, called for peace in the Middle East and urged an end to supplies of arms to both sides in Syria’s civil war.

Contacted by AFP, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said an audience would take place on Saturday and said Sabra’s inclusion was a possibility.

Adnkronos said Sabra would also meet with other Vatican officials.

In a letter addressed to Benedict XVI, the Syrian National Council invited the pope to visit the strife-torn country after the fall of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“We will be able in the future to welcome you in free Syria,” the SNC said in its letter, which it handed to the pope during his visit to Lebanon that ended Sunday.

“This land was the first home for Christianity, after Saint Paul the Apostle… became a Christian in a church in Syria,” the letter said. “Then we will pray together for peace for all.”

The SNC published excerpts from the letter in a news release on Tuesday.

The group also confirmed Italian media reports that Sabra would be part of the delegation meeting the pope on Saturday.