Beirut: Pope and Maronite Patriarch call for help and prayers
The devastating explosion has intensified an ongoing economic crisis in the small middle-eastern nation, where nearly one-fifth of all inhabitants are refugees. The Pope has joined in his appeal for international support by the Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church, the leader of Lebanon's Catholics.
The Pope has asked Catholics to “pray for the victims and their family members, and let us pray for Lebanon so that with the effort of everyone in society – political and religious – may face this tragic and painful moment”. The holy father also asked the international community to send humanitarian aid to Lebanon, in order to help the people of that country “overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing”, as reported by thetablet.co.uk
Cardinal Béchara Boutros al-Rai, said, “Lebanon is in a situation of economic and financial bankruptcy which renders it unable to face this catastrophe”. Rai stated that the Maronite church had set up a rescue network throughout the affected territory, but due to a shortage of resources, is limited in how much it can help. The Cardinal specifically requested that a “United Nations-controlled fund” be set up to manage funds and direct aid within the region.
The Maronite Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic church in communion with the Holy See: it numbers around three and a half million adherents throughout the world, with Maronites amounting to one-third of the Lebanese population.
The dockside explosion destroyed nearby structures, shattered glass and shook buildings throughout the city. The blast was so powerful that noise from the event was heard 200 kilometres away on the island of Cyprus. The President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, said in an official statement that the blast was caused by thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate – used as a fertiliser – detonating after the warehouse it was stored in caught fire.
“Beirut is a devastated city. Beirut, the bride of the East and the beacon of the West, is wounded,” he said. “It’s a war scene: there is destruction and desolation in all its streets, its neighborhoods and houses.”
“We pray for the victims and their families; and we pray for Lebanon so that, with the commitment of all its social, political and religious components, it can face this tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the serious crisis it is going through.”
Featured photo shows Pope Francis and Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Rai with whom he tackled affairs related to the Church and the Middle East’s overall situation at the Vatican, in February 2020.