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Demonstrators pray during a moment of silence as they take part in protests near the site of the blast at the Beirut's port area Aug. 11, 2020. CNS photo/Alkis Konstantinidis, Reuters

Canadian bishops offer prayers and support for Lebanon

  • August 13, 2020

OTTAWA -- Canadians and the Catholic Church in Canada have always been there for the people of Lebanon in times of need, says the Montreal-based Maronite Catholic Bishop Paul-Marwan Tabet.

And in the coming weeks as the Lebanese people deal with the aftermath of the tragic Aug. 4 explosion, he expects Canadian Catholics and Canada as a whole will continue to provide spiritual and financial support in times of crisis as they have always done.

“The Catholic Church in Canada has never not been there for the people of Lebanon, it has never shied away from helping the people of Lebanon,” Tabet told Canadian Catholic News just days after the deadly explosion in the port area of Beirut.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement of support addressed to the Maronite Catholic community’s spiritual leaders.

“We have seen the images of its aftermath and we are heartbroken by the devastation that it has wrought on the Lebanese people,” the CCCB statement said.

“We, the Catholic bishops of Canada, your brothers in faith, stand in prayerful solidarity with you and your people as the rescue and recovery efforts continue. On this Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we pray that your suffering be transformed by the Light of Christ so that you, and the resilient and courageous people of Lebanon, are comforted by His sure and abiding love.”

According to Statistics Canada, the majority of the 220,000 Canadians of Lebanese origin are Christian. In 2001, 42 per cent indicated they were Catholic.

The primarily-Lebanese Maronite Catholics recognize and follow the dictates of the Vatican and the Pope and there has always been a supporting relationship between Canada’s Catholic Church and Maronite Catholics, Tabet said.

That support has been expressed directly by a number of Canadian bishops since the explosions and Tabet said the Archdiocese of Montreal has pledged that funds raised during collections the first two weekends of August will go towards Lebanon relief efforts.

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine expressed “shock” in a letter about the devastation that has been inflicted on the Lebanese people.

“I wish to express, on my behalf and on behalf of all the faithful of the Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal, our deepest sympathy,” Lépine said.

“We are all in shock at the scale of the tragedy that affects thousands of people, the city, all of Lebanon and the Lebanese diaspora throughout the world. We grieve with you in your immense sorrow and assure you of our prayers and solidarity,” he said.

In Canada, the Catholic Church’s international development arm, Development and Peace, is calling on Canadians to donate to the cause through its membership in Caritas Internationalis.

“The disaster is unimaginable. We are facing a real human and humanitarian disaster,” said Fadi Daou, president and CEO of Adyan, which is a Development and Peace partner in that part of the world.

In spite of the devastation, many in Canada’s Lebanese community say their homeland is resilient.

“Nothing is worse than a civil war where people are fighting and killing each other, but this is disaster is on a different level,” said Edmonton’s Hossen Haymour, who emigrated from Lebanon 16 years ago.

“I believe there’s always, always hope. Lebanon has been through a lot and come out stronger. Like all the Lebanese around the world, we are praying, praying.”

(With files from Grandin Media)

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