LEBANON: Middle East Council of Churches calls for aiding churches damaged in Beirut explosion, Archbishop Rahmé refuses to offer loyalty to politicians

BEIRUT — The Middle East Council of Churches held an online meeting headed by Chairman of the Middle East Churches for the Eastern Orthodox Churches, His Holiness, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Aphrem II to discuss the situation of the Churches of the Middle East and developments in the region generally.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman of the Council for the Catholic Churches, Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako and the Secretary-General of the Council, Dr. Thuraya Bashalani.

The Council stressed its role in standing by the affected churches in Beirut following the destructive explosion at the city’s port that killed at least 177 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused between € 8–15 billion in property damage, leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

In his sermon during the Dormition of Virgin Mary, in Aynata, Deir al-Ahmar, and Bashawat, Eparch of the Maronite Diocese of Baalbek and Deir al-Ahmar, Archbishop Hanna Rahmé, stated that, “The disaster of the explosion of Beirut prompted every honest Lebanese to unite and cooperate with their Lebanese brothers.”

“They all united against corruption, recklessness, and sedition,” Archbishop Rahmé added, calling on all the Lebanese to announce their loyalty to Lebanon, not to the country’s leaders, politicians, or parties.

“This is what made us neglectful and disdainful of our country and our state,” said the Archbishop. “If the Lebanese people, 30 years ago, resolved the civil war and built their state and worked against corruption, we wouldn’t need anyone today.

“We would not see today on our shores all these warships and foreign countries interference,” Archbishop Rahmé declared. “The people must unite in the face of corruption and conduct new parliamentary elections, through which they choose their actual representatives, for the people are the source of powers.”