By Vatican News Staff writer
Church bells will be able to toll again across the Lebanese capital Beirut thanks to an project supported by Aid to the Church in Need.
The programme was announced 100 days after an explosion triggered one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever recorded, causing more than 200 deaths, 6,500 injuries and leaving 300,000 people homeless.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the Pontifical charity was providing emergency support for 5,880 homeless families.
The 5 million euro aid package announced by ACN this week will be spent mainly on reconstruction, with churches, a cathedral and a convent among the buildings being repaired.
One of the churches included in the project is St Saviour’s Melkite Greek Catholic church which lost its roof in the explosion.
Speaking to ACN, Parish priest Father Nicolas Riachy said they want give hope to those who still want to remain.
“Our mission is to bring light into the darkness through which we are living. There is no Christianity without the Cross. Christ is our example.”
“It is not easy to be Christians, but many of our people are still very much aware that this land is Holy Land and we cannot abandon it," he said.
Winter and economic hardship
As winter fast approaches Father Riachy stressed the importance of getting the roof repairs completed as soon as possible.
He also pointed to the suffering and economic hardship people are enduring as a result of the blast.
“All the houses of our faithful have had their windows smashed and doors blown in. And on top of this we have the economic crisis. The banks have frozen people’s assets, so now they have nothing. How are they going to help me rebuild this church?”, he asked.
“Pope Francis has told us that a Middle East without Christians is unthinkable”, said Fr Riachy.
But he noted that if Christians are to remain in Lebanon, help is required.
He added: “Around 10 percent of the population of this particular suburb have left, because they can no longer live in their homes.
“I can’t do anything to stop them because I can’t offer them the security, which is what they are seeking.”