By Katie Ascough - 12 August, 2020
“This donation is intended as a sign of His Holiness’s attention and closeness to the affected population and of his fatherly closeness to people in serious difficulty,” – Vatican press release.
According to Catholic News Agency (CNA), Pope Francis has sent a donation of 250,000 euros ($295,488) to aid the Church in Lebanon with their recovery efforts after the devastating explosion which occurred in the capital city of Beirut on 4 August.
According to the BBC, the massive blast was caused by the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely at the port for years, killing over 200 and injuring thousands. It is also reported that about 300,000 people were left temporarily homeless.
Many people have accused the country’s leaders of culpability through their alleged negligence and corruption. Protesters have taken to the streets and clashed with police for several days.
“This donation is intended as a sign of His Holiness’s attention and closeness to the affected population and of his fatherly closeness to people in serious difficulty,” a Vatican press release stated regarding the recent gift to the Church in Lebanon.
Church leaders have warned that the city and nation are on the brink of total collapse, and pleaded with the international community for aid. Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Eparchy of St Maron of Brooklyn and Bishop Elias Zeidan of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles described Beirut as an “apocalyptic city” in a joint call for assistance on Wednesday.
“This country is at the verge of a failed state and total collapse,” they said. “We pray for Lebanon, and we ask for your support for our brothers and sisters at this difficult time and in response to the catastrophe.”
Pope Francis’ donation was sent through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development to the Apostolic Nunciature of Beirut and will go to “meet the needs of the Lebanese Church in these moments of difficulty and suffering”, according to the Vatican.
The explosion destroyed “buildings, churches, monasteries, facilities and basic sanitation,” the statement continued. “An immediate emergency and first aid response is already taking place with medical care, shelters for the displaced and centres of basic needs made available by the Church through Caritas Lebanon, Caritas Internationalis and several Caritas sister organisations.”
Pope Francis made an appeal for prayer for the people of Lebanon after his general audience address on 5 August. He said: “Let us pray for the victims, for their families; and let us pray for Lebanon, so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it might face this extremely tragic and painful moment and, with the help of the international community, overcome the grave crisis they are experiencing.”