The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU (COMECE) calls on the European Union to support the Lebanese population in their struggle for the preservation of Lebanon’s identity and social fabric in the face of the ongoing multi-faced crisis. The COMECE appeal builds upon the concerns recently expressed by the Lebanese Church in a letter sent to the Bishops of the EU.
The Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops in Lebanon (APECL) addressed a letter to H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, President of COMECE, expressing concerns about dangers posed by the current political, social, sanitary and economic crisis confronting the Lebanese population. According to the local Church, the severity of the situation endangers the country’s very own identity forged by “encounter, plurality and fraternity, making it the natural place for dialogue between the diversity of religious and cultural communities.”
Echoing Pope Francis’ repeated appeals, the Lebanese Church urges the international community, including the EU, to support the people in Lebanon by “ensuring the maintenance of their individual, collective and national rights, contributing to the fight against the economic crisis, to the protection of the social fabric and to the preservation of Lebanon’s identity and specificity”.
In their letter, the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops also highlight the need for supporting the Christian presence in the region through the Church’s institutions, “which are and will always remain at the service of all citizens, without distinction or discrimination, and will keep on working tirelessly for the common good”.
The EU Bishops share the concerns of the local Church in Lebanon and express their solidarity with the Lebanese society, which is enriched by a mosaic of communities, including Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
Following up on a recent meeting with EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, COMECE brought the above-mentioned concerns to the attention of the European Union, proposing concrete ways to address the social, housing, healthcare and educational needs of the Lebanese population.
In absence of effective public policies and actions, Church and faith-based actors (such as Caritas Lebanon and L’Œuvre d’Orient) are providing indispensable humanitarian services to all communities. “However, the socio-economic crisis amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic is posing an existential threat to many of their operations. Therefore – states Fr. Manuel Barrios Prieto, General Secretary of COMECE – we encourage the EU to seek creative ways of engagement and partnership with Churches and religious actors on the ground”.