Pope Benedict XVI has delivered a prayer in Arabic for the first time during his weekly general audience. More than 20,000 people heard the Pope’s prayers in Arabic, part of a new effort by the Vatican to show support for Christians in the Middle East.
The Pope today first delivered his own brief greeting in Arabic: "The pope prays for all the Arabic-speaking people. God bless you all."
Then a priest translated the Pope’s prayers into Arabic.
The Vatican said it was adding Arabic to the six languages, aside from the original Italian, typically spoken during the general audience, to remind Catholics to pray for peace in the Middle East. The prayers are usually delivered in English, French, Spanish. German, Polish and Portuguese. Khalid Hussain, a Pakistani-born Muslim tourist visiting St. Peter’s Square, praised the initiative, saying "I think it will bring a lot of audience into what the pope is saying". The Pope also praised the Second Vatican Council, which began 50 years ago this week and ran for three years, calling it a ‘compass’ for the Catholic Church ‘in the middle of the storms’.
The Council brought 2,250 bishops together and created 15 ‘constitutions’ which helped reform the Vatican. A mass in St Peter’s Square on Thursday will launch a ‘Year of Faith’, to celebrate the exact anniversary of the start of Vatican II.