Last Wednesday, after summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father made a call to pray for Lebanon, inviting everyone to join in a universal day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon on Friday, 4 September. Pope Francis encouraged all Lebanese to persevere in hope and summoned the strength and energy needed to start anew. He also asked political and religious leaders to commit themselves with sincerity and openness to rebuilding. The Pope asked the international community to support Lebanon and help emerge from this grave crisis, without becoming caught up in regional tensions.
Once again, the Holy Father encouraged bishops, priests, religious and lay persons to continue to accompany the faithful. He asked of them apostolic zeal, poverty, and austerity to be close to their poor and suffering people. He encouraged them to help their faithful and Lebanese people to rise again and contribute actively to a new rebirth.
In a special way, Pope Francis addressed Beirut’s people: Brothers and sisters, take courage once more! Let faith and prayer be your strength. Do not abandon your homes and your heritage. Do not abandon the dreams of those who believed in the dawn of a beautiful and prosperous country.
We asked Fr. Binoy Mandapathil, C.Ss.R., ministering in Beirut, to share his remarks on the current situation, the people’s needs and hopes, and how they would join the Pope Francis’ appeal. Here is his response:
The news that the Pope talks during his audience about Lebanon was spreading very high throughout the country. After one month, the memory and the wounds of explosions are not yet healed, so the spiritual support from the Pope is very important for the Christians here and all the people of good will. The solidarity of the whole world in prayer with the Country of cedars gives us the strength to cross the temporary difficulties faithfully and grow up in our trust and our relation with Christ the Redeemer.
Surely the current situation in Lebanon is changing according to the people’s needs. The groups of volunteers who were working in the first two weeks to clean up the buildings and the streets of Beirut are almost finished their target. As Redemptorists Fathers, we were answering in the immediate situation by being with people and covering their first human needs. We also made sure that all our parishioners and friends are safe.
Now Lebanon needs to step into the second phase – the rebuilding of the Country. The devastation of the big part of Beirut and his region required several years to be rebuilt. With the deep economic and political crisis, Lebanon cannot do it alone. After the current statistics, 54 % of the population lives in poverty and needs daily provision and medicine. Sure, the Lebanese could experience the solidarity of all other countries, which brought medicine, temporary hospitals, food, clothes, etc. The Churches and the caritative organizations took their place to support the people in distress. But still, the needs are big. Before winter, it is necessary to renovate the destroyed houses. There is a great demand to change the broken windows and doors, furniture, accessories, etc.
The explosion in Beirut and the increase of COVID 19 added more gravity to the difficult situation in the country. Many people lost their job, and they do not receive a regular salary. The reopening of the schools is postponed to December 2020. Our Redemptorist church and school, which are 5 km away from the explosion place, have to be repaired too.
Answering on the Pope’s call, our community and parish in a special way will be united in prayer and in the fasting for the rebuilding of God’s beloved country. Let God’s glory come back to the mountains of Lebanon. Let the faith and the trust of the Lebanese people will be strong like a cedar.
In the Redeemer
Fr. Binoy Mandapathil
See also Fr. Binoy’s previous contributions:
Lebanon: We are fulfilling our mission in the wounded world
Lebanon: prayer and help needed