Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Maronite Patriarch highlights duty of Church after blast

Rome, Aug 5, 2020 (CNA) - After at least one explosion occurred at the ports of Beirut on Tuesday, a Maronite Catholic cardinal has said the local Church needs support to help the people of Lebanon recover from this disaster.

“Beirut is a devastated city. A catastrophe struck there because of the mysterious explosion which occurred in its port,” Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, said Aug. 5.

“The Church, which has set up a relief network throughout Lebanese territory, today finds itself faced with a new great duty which it is unable to assume on its own,” the statement of the patriarch continued.

He said after the Beirut explosion, the Church stands “in solidarity with the afflicted, the families of the victims, the wounded, and the displaced that it is ready to welcome in its institutions.”

The blast, which occurred at Beirut’s port, has killed at least 100 and injured thousands, flooding hospitals. The death toll is expected to climb further, as emergency personnel search for an unknown number of people still missing in the rubble.

The explosion ignited fires and most of the city was without electricity Tuesday and Wednesday. Sections of the city, including the popular waterfront area, were flattened in the blast. Crowded residential neighborhoods in eastern Beirut, which is predominantly Christian, also sustained severe damage from the explosion, which was felt as far as 150 miles away in Cyprus.

Cardinal Rai described the city as looking like “a war scene without war.”

“Destruction and desolation in all its streets, neighborhoods, and houses.”

He urged the international community to come to the aid of Lebanon, which was already in an economic crisis.

“I am addressing you because I know how much you want Lebanon to regain its historic role in the service of man, democracy, and peace in the Middle East and in the world,” Rai said.

He asked for countries and for the United Nations to send aid to Beirut, and called on charities around the world to help Lebanese families “heal their wounds and restore their homes.”

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Aug. 5 a national day of mourning. The country is almost evenly divided between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, and Christians, most of whom are Maronite Catholics. Lebanon also has a small Jewish population, as well as Druze and other religious communities.

Christian leaders have asked for prayers after the explosion, and many Catholics have turned to the intercession of St. Charbel Makhlouf, a priest and hermit who lived from 1828 to 1898. He is known in Lebanon for his miraculous healings of those who visit his tomb to seek his intercession – both Christians and Muslims. 

The Maronite Foundation in the World posted a photo of the saint to their Facebook page Aug. 5 with the caption “God have mercy on your people. Saint Charbel pray for us.”

The studio and offices of the Middle East Christian Television network Noursat was located about five minutes from the blast site and was “massively damaged” according to a joint statement from the network’s founder and chairman Aug. 5.

They asked for “intensive prayers for our beloved country Lebanon, and for Tele Lumiere/Noursat to continue its mission in spreading the word of God, hope, and faith.”

“We pray for the souls of the victims, ask our Almighty God to heal the injured, and give strength to their families.”


  1. And the orthodox patriarch said what? Or are the catholics our voice again?

    1. In the face of such horrors it is good of you to remind us of the antagonism. Oh, wait....

  2. The Antiochian orthodox patriarch is based in Syria not in Lebanon, unlike the Maronite patriarch, since the majority of the Antiochian flock is in Syria. The Antiochian orthodox patriarch is coordinating with the archdiocese of Beirut, which is on the ground, most affected, but also most capable of coordinating relief work, statements, etc.

    The archdiocese of Beirut has issued statements targeted to their flock and the Lebanese, in Arabic. The situation is very much a war zone. Yesterday, they were looking for their missing persons, today, they're burying their dead (the metropolitan of Beirut today was at the funeral of 4 nurses of the decimated Orthodox hospital of St George in Beirut), cleaning up, so I would give them a few days for more solid statements to the international community.

    In the meantime, the Antiochian archdiocese of North America is also coordinating with the archdiocese of Beirut for fundraising and support:

    1. Thank you for answering with light rather than heat. Far more productve.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. John X is in Beirut today. He visited St George's Hospital this morning and is currently giving a press conference with Met Audi from the cathedral.