Cardinal Vincent Nichols has written to Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, offering prayers for the country following the deadly explosion in its capital.
At least 137 people were killed and 5,000 injured in the explosion that shook Beirut on Tuesday 4th August. Hundreds of people have also been reported missing due to the explosion and more than 300,000 have been displaced from their homes.
In his letter to the Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Maronite Church, Cardinal Nichols describes the explosion as a ‘tragedy of immense proportions’ and offers his prayers for the country.
‘I watched with deepening horror the unfolding news of the dreadful industrial explosion in the centre of your beloved Beirut,’ the cardinal writes. ‘The widespread devastation it has caused has brought such a high toll of death, injuries and destruction. This is a tragedy of immense proportions for this city and for the whole of the Lebanon.
‘I pray earnestly today for you all. I know that many people will be doing so, especially within the Catholic community in England and Wales,’ Cardinal Nichols continues. ‘I pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families. I pray for the injured and those who attend them. I pray for those rendered homeless or derelict through this terrible event. I raise my prayers to your great saint, Saint Charbel, whose relic adorns my chapel, that he may win for you all the courage and perseverance to meet this awesome challenge.
‘May God bless you, your people and the country of Lebanon.’
Christine Allen, director of the Catholic international development charity CAFOD, also offered prayers for those affected by the explosion and said the charity remains committed to supporting the country.
“CAFOD expresses its deepest sympathies and prayers to the families of the victims, as well as to the people Lebanon, following the horrific explosions in Beirut,” she said.
“Local Lebanese organisations, that CAFOD works alongside, have told us of the widespread destruction that has swept the city. And, how their volunteers are already on the frontlines: assisting in hospitals and helping the injured.
“This disaster has happened at a challenging time for Lebanon, as they deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s economic turmoil. This explosion threatens to push many who were already suffering further into poverty and hunger.
“CAFOD remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time.”
Picture: A helicopter sprays water to extinguish a fire after the explosions at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon, on 5th August 2020. (Xinhua/Bilal Jawich).