By Larissa I. López

In the last few days, Episcopates of different parts of the world have expressed their closeness and solidarity with Lebanon and the local Church, in the wake the fatal explosions in Beirut last Tuesday, August 4, 2020.

The tragedy in the Lebanese capital has left over 150 dead and some 6,000 wounded. On August 7, 2020 Pope Francis sent an initial aid of 250 thousand euros to attend to the needs of the Church in Lebanon.

The United States

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States (USCCB), and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, President of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the USCCB, issued a statement in which they pointed out that Lebanon, already enduring a difficult economic situation and governmental corruption, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, now faces an “even graver” situation.

Given the appeal of the Patriarch of Lebanon, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, the statement encourages “Catholics and all people of good will to pray for the afflicted and to donate generously to the Catholic Relief Services given the disaster. They also call on the Government of the United States to speed up humanitarian aid to Lebanon in this critical hour of need.

The American Bishops joined Pope Francis’ prayer last Wednesday, asking that Lebanon might “overcome the grave crisis it’s experiencing.”

Spain

For its part, the Spanish Episcopal Conference (SEC) published Cardinal Omella’s letter to the mentioned Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon.

Cardinal Omella, President of the SEC and Archbishop of Barcelona, expressed his “fraternal greeting of consolation and peace” to the Patriarch, “in these very harsh moments for all the Lebanese, caused by the terrible explosions that occurred in Beirut.”

In his Letter and in the name of the SEC and of the Catholic Church in Spain, Cardinal Omella expressed their “condolence and fraternal closeness. We offer our prayer to the Holy Trinity for the eternal rest of the deceased, the recovery of the wounded and the reconstruction of all that was destroyed.”

At the same time, together with the aid already committed by Caritas-Spain, the SEC’s Executive Commission “also wishes to offer that sister Church a simple economic collaboration to respond to the most urgent needs.””

The European Community

Through a message sent by the President of the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), the Bishops of Europe referred to “the shock and sadness of the people of Beirut caused by the terrible and mortal explosions,” and offered their “most profound condolences to the victims’ families and to all those that have lost their dear ones: friends, neighbours, colleagues.”

“We pray for Lebanon so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious elements, it will be able to address this extremely tragic and painful moment,” continues the message.

Finally, COMECE expressed its gratitude for the immediate assistance and humanitarian mechanisms activated by the European Union (EU) and invited it to “continue working elbow to elbow with the Government and people of Lebanon, including the local religious communities, in this dramatic historic moment, marked also by the COVID-19 pandemic, severe economic crisis and

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