Lebanon in Crisis: In Solidarity

A month after a blast in the port of Beirut killed nearly 200 people, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, visited the city as the representative of Pope Francis.

The highlight of the visit, a prayer service on 4 September held near the site of the blast, coincided with the day of prayer and fasting for Lebanon called for by the pontiff. Accompanied by the Holy See’s nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, the service took place under a Caritas tent. Multiple bishops, heads of religious congregations and representatives of Catholic organizations working among those devastated by the blast, including CNEWA’s regional director based in Beirut, Michel Constantin, attended. After the liturgy, the cardinal visited the Geitaoui and Rosary Sisters hospitals and Sacred Heart School, all of which are located near the site of the blast and suffered extensive damage.  

During the cardinal’s visit, Archbishop Spiteri announced that the Holy See’s Congregation for Eastern Churches had charged CNEWA and L’Oeuvre d’Orient, a Paris-based Catholic charity that has long partnered with CNEWA, to coordinate worldwide Catholic aid for Lebanon. Thus far, CNEWA has secured pledges of more than $1.2 million dollars to initiate repairs to the hospitals, which have been shuttered since the blast.

The hospitals, which are administered by two Catholic religious congregations, have a combined capacity of nearly 500 beds, provide a wide range of outpatient services and clinics, and employ more than 1,000 people. Considered among the finest health care facilities in the country, the loss of these hospitals comes at a critical juncture, as cases of coronavirus surge and Lebanon’s fragile health care system unravels with the country’s socioeconomic and political free fall. Their loss cannot be underestimated.  

Learn more about CNEWA’s emergency relief efforts in Lebanon at this link.

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