Beirut, August 5, 2020
The world was shocked on Tuesday, August 4, when a massive explosion shook the port of Beirut, Lebanon, with now reportedly around one hundred people killed, over four thousand injured; some reports say that more than 200,000 are left homeless, as the shockwave spread through the city breaking glass, and the red mushroom cloud loomed over the port.
With tensions in the region already high, preliminary reports are indicating the explosion was due to “confiscated high explosive materials” being stored in the port, possibly ammonium nitrate. That being said, the cause of the explosion is currently unknown pending an investigation. Orthodox Churches were among the many critically damaged structures.
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, leader of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, issued the following statement:
“It is with a sense of shock and awe that I learned of the tragic explosions in Beirut today. I have been in contact with the Archdiocese of Beirut and am thankful that His Eminence Metropolitan Elias of Beirut is safe. At this moment, all of the clergy of his Archdiocese are safe. However, churches in Beirut including St. George Cathedral in downtown and especially St. Nicholas Church in Ashrafiyah suffered severe damage. There was also significant damage to Metropolitan Elias’ Archdiocesan Headquarters as well as St. George Hospital.”
His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus’ extended his prayers and condolences to the people of Lebanon, saying:
“It was with bitterness and pain that I learned of the explosions that thundered over the port of Beirut on Tuesday, as a result of which many people died, many were injured, and the buildings and infrastructure of the city suffered significant damage. Please accept my deepest condolences,” the Patriarch conveyed his message to the President of the Lebanese Republic.
“I sincerely sympathize with those who have lost their relatives and loved ones. I ask you to convey to them words of consolation and support, and to the wounded I wish a speedy recovery,” added His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill.
“The news of the calamity that inflicted new wounds on your long-suffering Christ-loving flock, echoed in my heart with pain,” said Patriarch Kirill, to His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch.
“I pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, that He give healing to the victims, may He give rest to the souls of those perished, may He send their relatives and friends comfort in the sorrow that befell them, and to Lebanon—peace, prosperity and tranquility,” concluded the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Antiochian Archdiocese of North America is preparing to help victims, saying on their website:
“We will send out an immediate appeal to our parishes requesting funds to aid our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. If you want to give directly, please send your donations to the Archdiocesan Headquarters (P.O. Box 5238, Englewood, NJ 07631-5238) and put “Beirut” in the memo of the check. You may also donate online here.
The Antiochian Church also called on faithful to “pray the Paraklesis service in church and at home, imploring the Theotokos – Mary, the Mother of God – to rescue the world from affliction and intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.”