“On behalf of all the Bishops of the European Union, I share the drama and sadness of the people of Beirut following the horrific and deadly explosions in the port of the capital of Lebanon”, the president of the Commission of the Bishops of the EU (COMECE), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, has said.
In a statement after the tragedy of the Beirut blasts, the COMECE president and Archbishop of Luxembourg expressed his “deepest condolences to the families of the victims and all those who have lost their loved ones: friends, neighbours, colleagues” and promised “prayers for the souls of the dead and for the speedy recovery of the injured”.
Echoing the words of Pope Francis, the European Bishops are praying for Lebanon “so that, through the dedication of all its social, political and religious components, it may face this extremely tragic and painful moment”, the cardinal said.
Hollerich told Vatican News that “Lebanon is our neighbour. There are many Christians, many Muslims who want to live in peace in this country, a country that has been very prosperous and now has become very poor: the people are suffering so much…”
“We must not forget that Lebanon has taken in so many refugees; that in the Church of Europe there are Lebanese people, just like there are in our countries. For example, in Cyprus, the Catholic Church of Cyprus is the Maronite Church: they are people who have come from Lebanon.
“So, in a sense, they are part of Europe and we in our prayers, in our concrete help, must not forget Lebanon”, Hollerich insisted.
Q: Your Eminence, what was the commitment of the European Churches before this tragedy?
A: Naturally in COMECE we work for peace and also for good relations between the European Union and Lebanon, but as far as money is concerned, the concrete help comes from each national Church that makes its own contribution. And we know that there are many Churches in Europe that are very generous.
Is it also important to appeal to the international community not to forget Lebanon? This small country, which in the last 30 years has been a bastion of peace and coexistence, seems to be a little forgotten, aside from this tragedy…
Yes, and also from the political and security point of view. I think that Lebanon is important for the European Union, which has every interest in Lebanon being stable: politically and economically stable.
I therefore believe that politicians, including Europeans, must react because it is in the interest of the peoples of Europe to help Lebanon.
But we, as Christians, must do more: we must not just act for ourselves, but we must act with solidarity and love, with charity.
It seems that this was not an intentional act, but an accident: an accident, however, in which there was a warehouse with an excessive amount of a chemical compound useful for agriculture, but also for the creation of explosives. In any case, it is also an environmental tragedy: the Pope’s call for attention to be paid to the balance between man and nature returns…
This is very important: we have not yet understood this very important appeal.
We see that our planet is heating up faster than we thought. We see that there are fires in the Amazon: 19% more than last year, if I am not mistaken. This means that we must act, and it also means that we must change the way we live.
It is very important, because we have a responsibility towards this Earth; we have a responsibility towards future generations.
And we understand that, where there is no longer political stability, where there are so many different interests, as is currently the case in Lebanon, the situation becomes very dangerous.
We know that there are many countries in similar situations, so we must act at the international level to ensure that in the countries at risk there are no more such incidents.
(With reporting by Vatican News)