Exactly one month after the tragic explosion that devastated the city of Beirut, the Pope asks for a day of fasting and universal prayer for today, Friday, September 4, addressing his brothers and sisters of other confessions and religious traditions. Each one will adhere to it in the manner he deems most appropriate, he says, and the goal is to raise all together, in fraternal communion, as one human family, a prayer to God so that the Lebanese people do not lose hope and "find the necessary strength and energy to start again."
On the occasion of such a significant day, we too, as Family International Monitor, wish to live this concrete and spiritual closeness with the brothers and sisters of Lebanon, following our vocation to try to be close to the families, listen to their experience and tell their concrete life. As you know, Lebanon is one of the 12 countries where the Family International Monitor is conducting research on the theme "Family and Poverty" - the publication of the first report on "Families and Relational Poverty" is scheduled for the end of November 2020 - and as soon as we heard the news of the explosion we contacted our dear Don Youssef Abi Zeid, director of the Family Institute at La Sagesse University in Beirut to ascertain their safety and to make us close to them. Through him we have collected a picture of the situation, some dramatic testimonies of those who have seen his world collapse in a few seconds and who now face the terrible challenge of moving forward trying to start from rubble, not only physically and materially, but also psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. We want to share with you some of his words, in the hope that they can help us to look and feel what our brothers and sisters on the other side of the Mediterranean are experiencing. United today, according to the Pope’s invitation, universally in prayer and fasting, so that the land of cedars may flourish again. Valeria Guarino, Secretary General of the Family International Monitor
Beirut, 13th August. Nine days after the explosion. It has taken me a day to recover from the psychological shock of the explosion, but I am going to give myself a wake-up call at the thought of the great drama that the city is experiencing. All this causes me great sadness, but I resist, with the Hope of faith in Jesus. The first days after the explosion, people went around looking for their wounded and their dead, but at the same time a mass of volunteers from all confessions rushed to help. Now we are in the phase of organizing this flow of charitable acts. The parish where I am working, the parish of San Michele, has been divided into sectors, and in each sector a volunteer priest is available to listen to the people living in that area and encourage them. A working table is being formed to learn about their needs for food, medical, psychological and spiritual help, as well as the basic needs of the damaged apartments: doors, windows, glass, cleaning the remains of destruction, accommodation of the house.
The Maronite Diocese of Beirut is trying to centralize the management of support to the devastated parishes, which currently number 6, and in each parish a tent has been set up to receive people who need to rebuild the house. But at the same time thieves (mostly Syrian) steal the open apartments. Some rich people take advantage of the situation to buy the land in the damaged buildings at low prices, and people from undamaged regions pretend to be citizens of the devastated areas to take the support packages for the victims of the explosion. It also happens, however, that the pride of the citizens of Beirut prevents them from joining this ranks. Families who used to help the poor of the Church now find themselves in the greatest need because they have lost everything: their jobs, their homes. Not to mention churches, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, offices, businesses, businesses, all destroyed or damaged.
Knowing that Lebanon lives on tourism and commerce, these data tell us that we will be in big trouble and that the recovery will be very hard. Where will we end up? We do not know. What we do know is that there is a need for support in the long term, but this support will certainly not come through a corrupt government. What I know is that we are in the hands of the Lord. There are so many horrible stories about this hell. But as I said there are always signs of hope. Now Beirut is a reconstruction site thanks to the help that comes from here and there. We hope that it will also be a construction of a new humanity. Father Youssef, director of the Family Institute at La Sagesse University in Beirut