ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome  

BEIRUT, Lebanon, NOV. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI pleaded for an "autonomous and ever more fraternal" Lebanon in a message read during the funeral of slain Christian politician Pierre Gemayel.

In the message, read in French by a priest, the Pope said: "We are all harshly stricken by an unspeakable act" and asked "the Lord to receive in the dwelling of his Kingdom he who committed himself in public life to the service of his country and his Lebanese brothers."

The Holy Father's words resounded during the funeral, presided over by Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, in St. Georges Cathedral.

Gemayel, 34, the country's industry minister, was assassinated Tuesday.

The papal message affirmed: "I hope that all the Lebanese will be particularly sympathetic to one another in these circumstances and that they will commit themselves in a renewed manner to the building of an autonomous and ever more fraternal Lebanon, assuring the active participation of all its members in the national society."