Pope Benedict will make his 24th trip outside Italy since his election in 2005 on Friday (September 14) as he travels to Lebanon for a three-day visit to issue a document known as an “apostolic exhortation”, based on the results of a synod of Catholic bishops on the Middle East in 2010.
During his visit to Lebanon, the pope is expected to hammer home his calls for an international solution to the conflict in Syria, where opposition groups say at least 27,000 people have died in an uprising that has lasted more than 17 months.
Many believed the visit was at risk as violence escalated in the region and in the north of Lebanon.
But the Vatican is not overly worried about the pope’s security after receiving guarantees from the country's fractious religious groups.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Vatican on Tuesday (September 11), Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said there had never been any reason to think about cancelling the trip.
“I have always said there has never been any doubt this trip would go ahead. There have never been any motives to put it into question,” he said.
“Certainly it is a sign that Pope Benedict wishes to visit this troubled area -- as a sign of participation, encouragement, hope and as a message of peace,” he added.
There are fears that the Syrian conflict could spill over into Lebanon and reignite civil war among the country's rival religious groups.
Lebanon’s population is 60 percent Muslim with the rest almost all Christian.
There has also been concern in some concerns that the pope himself may become a target.
But Father Lombardi said he did not expect any additional security than is normally used on a visit.
“Certainly security is the responsibility of the host country and as in many other occasions, may I remind you, we put our trust in the authorities of the host country who know what they need to do,” he said.
“Here there could be measures that we could call preventative, such as controlling people who arrive in the country and things like that during the visit. But I don't think there is anything particularly extraordinary,” he added.
During the trip to Lebanon the pope is also expected to address the Vatican’s fears of an exodus of Christians leaving the Middle East because of war, instability and lack of economic opportunities.