Pope Benedict Adds Arabic as Official Language: Vatican Reaches out to Middle East Christians
Arabic has been adopted as one of the Vatican's official languages, following an announcement by Pope Benedict as part of his regular weekly address. Eleven other European languages are already in use in the official communications, with Pope usually speaking in Italian, followed by summaries read by priests in the other dialects. The Pope recently undertook a three-day trip to Lebanon to emphasize his concern for the minority Christian community and reach out to Muslims. During the visit, the 85-year-old Pope said that 'genuine' dialogue was needed among different religions and praised Arab Spring uprisings, calling them a desire for more freedom. The turmoil from the Arab Spring has however deeply unsettled the Middle East's Christian population, who face being left in the crossfire of rival Muslim factions. The Christian population in the region has dropped by three-quarters in the past century to 5 million, and some estimates believe this figure could halve by 2020.