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Lebanese cardinal: ‘The Church has a great duty’ after Beirut explosion

After at least one explosion occurred at the ports of Beirut on Tuesday, a Maronite Catholic cardinal has said the local Church needs support to help the people of Lebanon recover from this disaster.

“Beirut is a devastated city. A catastrophe struck there because of the mysterious explosion which occurred in its port,” Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, said Aug. 5.

“The Church, which has set up a relief network throughout Lebanese territory, today finds itself faced with a new great duty which it is unable to assume on its own,” the statement of the patriarch continued.

He said after the Beirut explosion, the Church stands “in solidarity with the afflicted, the families of the victims, the wounded, and the displaced that it is ready to welcome in its institutions.”

The blast, which occurred at Beirut’s port, has killed at least 100 and injured thousands, flooding hospitals. The death toll is expected to climb further, as emergency personnel search for an unknown number of people still missing in the rubble.

The explosion ignited fires and most of the city was without electricity Tuesday and Wednesday. Sections of the city, including the popular waterfront area, were flattened in the blast. Crowded residential neighborhoods in eastern Beirut, which is predominantly Christian, also sustained severe damage from the explosion, which was felt as far as 150 miles away in Cyprus.

Cardinal Rai described the city as looking like “a war scene without war.”

“Destruction and desolation in all its streets, neighborhoods, and houses.”

He urged the international community to come to the aid of Lebanon, which was already in an economic crisis.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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