BEIRUT (CNS) — As Lebanon’s Catholic leaders appealed for help for their country, international and U.S. organizations appealed for donations for Beirut, capital of a country already suffering from a severe economic downturn.
“The church, which has set up a relief network throughout Lebanese territory, now finds itself faced with a new great duty, which it is incapable of assuming on its own,” said Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch. He called for a U.N.-controlled fund to be set up to manage aid for the reconstruction of Beirut and other international assistance to aid the stricken country.
In Lebanon, Maronite Catholics are the largest Christian group. In the United States, two Maronite bishops noted that the explosions, which left more than 130 people dead and more than 300,000 homeless, “turned Beirut into an apocalyptic city. Hospitals, schools, houses, businesses, and much more (are) destroyed, leaving people feeling hopeless and helpless.”
“We ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to this catastrophe,” said the statement, signed by Bishops Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn and A. Elias Zaidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles.
“We urge you to pray for Lebanon, and we ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to this catastrophe. We appeal to all nations, all people of goodwill, to stand in solidarity with the Lebanese. We hope and pray Lebanon will regain stability and initiate a path of recovery toward peace and justice for all.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse that had caught fire.
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops nd the chairman of its Committee on International Justice and Peace expressed solidarity with Lebanon and joined Pope Francis in his call for prayers for the nation.
In an Aug. 6 statement, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB president, and committee chair Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, added their prayers to the pope’s that Lebanon may “‘overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing,’ and beseeching the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, we place our sure hope in Him who reconciles all things unto himself.”
Here are some Catholic agencies where you can donate to help the citizens of Lebanon: