The Impact of the Catastrophe on the Christian Community in Beirut
A devastating explosion ripped through Beirut on Tuesday, August 4, at around 6 pm (15:00 GMT). Lebanon’s government stated the destruction was caused by ammonium nitrate exploding at Beirut’s port. This accident has pushed the nation into a struggle that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the remnants of the 1975–1990 civil war.
Vatican’s Reaction on the Explosion
A Beirut church was affected by the explosion, and many people needed emergency assistance. To help with recovery efforts, Pope Francis has sent 250,000 euros ($295,000) to Lebanon. The Pope added that this donation was intended as a sign of His Holiness’s attention and closeness to the affected population.
The donation is directed to meet the needs of the Lebanese Church following the Beirut explosion. It has already provided medical care, shelters for the displaced, and centers of basic needs.
Pope Francis led the faithful in prayer for the victims, their families, and for Lebanon that faces this extremely tragic and painful moment. He prayed for the souls of the deceased and affected and the stability and prosperity of the nation. Also, he appealed to the global leaders to help in the long-lasting crisis.
Christian Community’s Response
The Beirut explosion zone has also prompted Catholic leaders around the world to call for action. Episcopalians are reaching out to their Anglican counterparts to assess their needs and help. International communities extended partnerships for relief funds to repair All Saints Church and the Anglican Center. Organizations like Christian Aid have also been helpful in mobilizing volunteers and distributing resources.
Brazil projected the Lebanese flag over its biggest landmark, the famous Christ The Savior monument in Rio de Janeiro. Hues of red, white, and green were shined out in honor of the victim at Toronto’s landmark, CN Tower. Similar gestures took place in Egypt with its pyramids, the UAE with Burj Khalifa, and the iconic Kuwait Towers.
How It Affected the Israeli-Lebanese Conflict
Following the Beirut blast, Tel Aviv’s Mayor Ron Huldai stated that the city hall would illuminate with the Lebanese flag. However, it wasn’t well-received by many Lebanese citizens. Some people have expressed their opinion using a hashtag that roughly translates to “we don’t want you.”
One of the groups that publicly condemned the gesture was the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah. It’s not surprising that this group has had such a reaction. Just about a week ago, the Israeli military said that it had thwarted a raid by a Hezbollah squad.
Israel is now making the case claiming that what caused the Beirut explosion may have been earmarked for the Jewish state. Israel’s Mossad intelligence found evidence that Hezbollah’s weapons storage included ammonium nitrate, so they should bear full responsibility for this incident.
As long as Hezbollah continues its attempts to Israel’s northern border, the two states are unlikely to reach peace. There haven’t been many clashes across the Israel-Lebanon border in recent years. Still, the stockpiling of weapons poses a threat to civilians.
Christian Community in Beirut
Lebanon’s Christian community is indisputably the second-largest in the Middle East, and it remains a politically powerful minority. They represent roughly 1/3 of the total population of 4.4 million. However, in recent years Christians in Lebanon have been exposed to political tensions.
After Lebanon’s civil war, many religious groups became segregated and grew suspicious of each other. An influx of more than 1.5 million refugees from neighboring Syria contributed to Christians feeling threatened. It is clear that there is a type of competition between Muslims and Christians in the region.
However, it doesn’t stop the Lebanon Christian church from making meaningful contributions to the local communities. This plays a big role in the revitalization of the local Catholic and Orthodox churches. Ministries have organized programs, including:
- Family-based renewal movement called Living Hope
- Young professionals program called YPO
- Youth outreach program
- Evangelistic outreach to university students called UCO
- Scouts association
- Public prayer meetings
As Joseph Kassab, president of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon has eloquently expressed, The most important thing is to find peace. In the midst of the crisis, we have to help people with their needs despite conflicting political views. This is an opportunity to sharpen the Christians’ calling.
Many people disregard the severity of such traumatic events and don’t consider victims and their experiences. Following any disaster, deeply offensive gags quickly proliferate around workplaces, and, of course, the internet. These jokes cause more harm to the individual who is still processing their trauma.
Beirut Christians can report inappropriate jokes about what happened in Beirut to the law office of Yuriy Moshes.
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