BEIRUT — Pope Benedict XVI began a visit to Lebanon on Friday, arriving just hours before violence over an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States spilled over into this country.
‘‘I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace,’’ the pope said upon arrival in Beirut. ‘‘As a friend of God and as a friend of men.’’ He called for reconciliation among religions and also denounced fundamentalism, calling it ‘‘a falsification of religion.’’
One person was killed and dozens were injured in the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Friday, as soldiers opened fire on hundreds of people demonstrating against the video, attacking a KFC, a Hardee’s, and a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, news agencies reported.
Even before the fury over the video began spreading, the pope’s visit, his first to the region since 2009, was being closely watched.
Over the course of the three-day trip, he is expected to speak about the hardships faced by Christians in the region and to address the civil war in Syria, which has left thousands of people dead and unleashed grisly sectarian violence. But the outrage over the video, which mocks the prophet Mohammed, has added a volatile element to the trip.
The Vatican had downplayed security concerns, saying the pope would be warmly welcomed in Lebanon, where more than 30 percent of the population is Christian. On his plane en route to Lebanon, Benedict told reporters, ‘‘Nobody has advised me to cancel this voyage,’’ according to an informal transcript provided by the Italian daily La Stampa.
‘‘I never thought of it,’’ he said, ‘‘because I know that the more complicated a situation becomes, the more necessary it is to send this signal of fraternity, encouragement, and solidarity.’’
Looking tired and using a cane, the 85-year-old pope emerged from his plane to cheers and was greeted by Lebanon’s president, Michel Suleiman. Children handed him flowers.
In brief remarks on the tarmac, the pope focused on Lebanon, shaken by the war in neighboring Syria, which has sent violence across the border and divided Lebanon’s political factions. He made no overt reference to the unrest over the video, and praised Lebanon as an example of cooperation between different faiths.
‘‘Like me, you know that this equilibrium, which is presented everywhere as an example, is extremely delicate,’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes it seems about to snap like a bow which is overstretched or submitted to pressures which are too often partisan.’’
“This is where real moderation and great wisdom are tested,’’ he added.
During the trip, the pope is expected to meet Lebanon’s political and religious leaders, along with Middle East bishops and young people.
He will also present a document produced by bishops of the Middle East at a synod at the Vatican in 2010, outlining issues of concern to the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle East. The visit culminates with a large outdoor Mass on the Beirut waterfront Sunday morning.