A priest reads in Arabic during Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 10 October. Arabic made its debut as one of the official languages at the pope’s weekly audience as part of the Vatican’s attempt to reach out more to both Christians and Muslims in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Yesterday, history was made when the Vatican used Arabic as one of the official languages of the pope’s weekly audience for the first time. Details from Reuters:
Arabic made its debut as one of the official languages at Pope Benedict’s weekly general audiences on Wednesday as part of a Vatican attempt to reach out more to Christians and Muslims in the Middle East.
Vatican officials said that speaking Arabic during the audiences, which are broadcast live on television and radio across the world, would send a comforting word to Christians in a region which is home to many Christian holy places.
They also hope the pope addressing Muslims directly could improve sometimes strained relations with Islam.
A priest read a summary of the pope’s Italian language weekly address in Arabic for the first time, joining other briefs in Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak and Spanish during the audience in front of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
After the address, which dealt with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the pope said in Arabic: “The pope prays for all people who speak Arabic. May God bless you all.”
The Vatican said the addition was made to show the pontiff’s concern for Christians in the Middle East and to remind both Muslims and Christians to work for peace in the region.