3 weeks have passed since the Beirut port explosion, and Lebanese people are still facing the repercussions of this disaster, which left great material and moral damage. For 22 days, the Lebanese were constantly struggling and exerting tireless efforts to rebuild their capital Beirut, which has been undergoing several crises for years. The process of removing shattered glass, wood and debris has been ongoing in public and private properties as well as in churches and their affiliated institutions. However, the losses and damages are still substantial, especially in churches, hospitals and schools.
As they believe that people of good will not stop offering their humanitarian support, especially in these difficult circumstances, the heads of churches in Beirut rushed to launch relief appeals and fundraising campaigns for the reconstruction of churches and all their centers following the explosion. They also received several official and international delegations that expressed their solidarity with the Lebanese people, announcing that they are ready to put all of their capabilities at the disposal of Lebanon, to provide relief to Beirut and its people.
Hence, His Eminence Metropolitan Elias Audeh, Archbishop of Beirut Orthodox Archdiocese, received several official figures among which Mrs. Catherine Fountoulaki, the Ambassador of Greece in Lebanon, who expressed her regret over the explosion and its disastrous consequences, and confirmed Greece’s continuous support for Metropolitan Audeh, the Archdiocese of Beirut and the Lebanese capital in general. Fontulaki also indicated that a Greek ship arrived at Beirut port, carrying medical supplies and humanitarian aid. Noting that Greece was one of the first countries to send search and rescue teams on the ground to help the Lebanese authorities. Metropolitan Elias Audeh also held several meetings, most notably with a delegation from the American Muslim Council, during which the Secretary General of the Council announced a cash aid of twenty million dollars offered by American Muslims to Lebanon, calling on all Muslims in the world to lend a helping hand.
As for donation campaigns, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Beirut, the Saint George University Hospital, the Annunciation Orthodox School and the École des Trois Docteurs launched relief appeals. His Beatitude Patriarch Youssef Absi I, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, called on the faithful in his church to take the initiative and extend a helping hand to support those affected by the explosion.
For his part, His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, also held several meetings and received an official Qatari delegation headed by Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, who stressed that his country continuously stands by Lebanon, highlighting the historical relations between Lebanon and Qatar. Patriarch Al-Rai also received Ján Kubiš, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, where the two discussed the role of the United Nations in securing, organizing and coordinating support and overseeing humanitarian aid.
His Beatitude Patriarch Al-Rai also conducted an inspection tour in Beirut that included several stops. He started in the Saint Maron Church in Gemmayze, then visited the Saint George Maronite Cathedral in Beirut, the Sacre-Coeur school and church in Gemmayzeh, the Franciscan Covent and Child Day Care Center, the Rosary hospital in Gemmayze, the St Michel Church – Al Nahr and the Beirut Fire Brigade where he prayed for the souls of the victims among Beirut’s firefighters.
In addition, the Maronite Archdiocese of Beirut launched a donation campaign for the victims of the explosion entitled “Moving together to rebuild Beirut” with the hashtag, #be Courage_Campaign, in Arabic. It also indicated in a statement that the diocese does not collect donations through any association. Moreover, His Eminence Paul Abdel Sater, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, presided over a Holy mass on the eve of the Assumption of Mary Feast, on August 14, 2020, in the stricken Mar Mikhael area.
For his part, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, met with Mr. Ibrahim Murad, President of the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) in Lebanon, where they both stressed the need for cooperation in order to provide better assistance to those affected by the explosion. In a meeting with Mr. Geza Mihaly, the Ambassador of Hungary in Lebanon, His Holiness discussed ways of cooperation between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Hungarian government to provide aid through several institutions and implement development projects to help those in need. Mr. Mihaly also visited His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church, and discussed with him the Hungarian government’s support to the Christians of the East and their causes.
As for the Armenian Church, which also suffered from heavy losses due to the port explosion, it launched a donation campaign to provide relief to the affected Armenian community in Beirut. In the same context, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, chaired the meeting of the Administration body of the Lay Council and the Religious Council of the Catholicosate’s General Assembly, which focused on the current work conducted to help Armenians in Lebanon.
In addition to receiving official delegations, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I contacted Mr. Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, via a phone call during which Mr. Pashinyan announced the assistance that the Republic of Armenia will provide to Lebanon and to the Armenian community in the country.
The Evangelical Church in Lebanon is also contributing to the relief and rescue in Beirut through a global donation campaign launched by Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, President of the National Evangelical Union of Lebanon. Moreover, after the explosion, the believers of the Evangelical church rushed to support their distressed brethren.
In turn, Palestine, through the General Secretariat of the Youth of Jesus’s Homeland Christian, has launched an initiative called “From Jerusalem, a greeting of peace to Beirut” which consists of selling rosaries produced by Palestinian families economically-affected by the Corona pandemic. These rosaries are made of olive wood and carry the two cities’ names, Beirut and Jerusalem, along with the Cedar of Lebanon tree and the Olive tree of Palestine. The proceeds of the initiative will be allocated to help the Lebanese people.
The Beirut Port explosion occurred while the Lebanese people already face many catastrophes and crises in addition to difficult living conditions that have deteriorated after this disaster. Thus, Beirut needs huge support to rise again from the ashes. How can the buildings and churches be rebuilt without assistance? How will the affected hospitals be able to receive patients with the Coronavirus outbreak? How will schools be able to open their doors at the beginning of the new academic year? Donations are pouring into Lebanon from all over the world to restore life in the devastated capital and during these sad days, prayer remains the only source of strength and hope.