In a matter of seconds, everything was reduced to rubble.
On Aug. 4, these explosions in the port area of Beirut destroyed practically half of the Lebanese capital. They left over 170 dead and about 7,000 injured, hundreds of them gravely mutilated. In the blink of an eye, more than 300,000 people were left homeless.
All this happened in a country already heavily affected by the coronavirus, which has sparked a huge economic crisis and which puts additional pressure on the more than 1.5 million Syrian, Iraqi and Pakistani refugees in the Middle East. The explosions also pulverized hundreds of tons of grain that were supposed to help feed the country.
The situation is unsustainable, and many Lebanese people, among them many Christians, want to leave.
Hours after the tragedy, the pope sent an initial contribution of $296,000.
Pope Francis remains concerned about the country, which is why he has called for a day of fasting and prayer for Lebanon, a month after the explosions at the port. He made the announcement during his General Audience.
“I would like to invite everyone to live a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on Friday, Sept. 4.”
FR. GEORGES BREIDI
“I was very moved. I wanted to share with the Holy Father what I carry in my heart: that my people can no longer live in a country like this. We cannot live like this any longer. We need universal aid—from the Church, above all. I think that today, I wasn't the representative for the Lebanese. Rather, it was the pope's voice. The pope's voice was the voice of all the people of Lebanon.”
“Many Christians have already presented their documents to leave, to emigrate from Lebanon. It's something that must be said.”
Fr. Georges Breidi is the priest who accompanied Pope Francis during this petition. The pope asked him to join him as he held the Lebanese flag.
The priest says words aren't enough to express his gratitude toward the pope for this gesture toward the people of Lebanon.
FR. GEORGES BREIDI
“I think what the Holy Father is doing, as the leader of the Catholic Church in the world—his authentic feelings, which reach us all the way in Lebanon—all I can do is kneel before him.”
Afterward, Fr. Breidi stood, and Pope Francis invited him to speak about the situation in Lebanon. The pope also asked the priest to join him in a silent prayer for the country, whose stability is crucial for bringing some degree of peace to an already unstable Middle East.