| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Maronite Patriarch Al-Rahi presides over mass devoted to the Beirut port explosion victims

Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, presided over a Mass service in memory of the fallen martyrs and victims of the Beirut Port explosion and devoted to the intention of healing the wounded, marking the two-year anniversary of the explosion, which was held at St. George’s Maronite Cathedral in downtown Beirut this morning.

In his homily, the Patriarch said: “We gather to hold this Divine Liturgy on the second anniversary of the Beirut Port blast. We offer the Divine Sacrifice for the comfort of the souls of the two hundred and twenty-one martyrs, and for the consolation of their families and relatives, and for the recovery of the wounded who were permanently disabled among the six thousand male and female citizens and some non-Lebanese, and we demand compensation for them and those affected by the demolition of their homes, institutions, shops, schools, hospitals, and places of worship.”

He added: “On this second anniversary, his Holiness Pope Francis shares with us the appeal he made yesterday to the families of the martyrs and the Lebanese people. We thank him for his fatherly love and pray for his total recovery, and for the fulfillment of his wishes for Lebanon, as he said, and for its rebirth. That is why we believe in the resurrection of Beirut, and with it all of Lebanon, so we return to being the ‘Beacon of the Orient’, the ‘Hospital & Bank of the East’, the homeland of convergence and the dialogue of civilizations and religions, with its active and positive neutrality…”

The Patriarch expressed the people’s anger and dismay against those responsible for obstructing the investigation into the port crime as if what happened were just a trivial and fleeting incident, saying: “We ask state officials: What do they want more than this crime, the crime of the era, in order to act? What does the judiciary want more than this in order to rise up for its dignity and resume its role?”

“Today, we are facing two crimes: the crime of the port explosion, and the crime of freezing the investigation, for the latter is no less serious than the blast itself because it is a deliberate and voluntary act that has reached the point of sowing discord among the families of the victims,” al-Rahi underlined, considering that the ruling and dominant authorities cannot disavow what happened.

The Patriarch went on to stress that “what is required is that the judicial investigative judge resumes his work in order to reach the truth. We do not accuse anyone nor exonerate anyone…People want justice…Freezing the investigation equates the innocent with the guilty. We reject the fact that some of the accused are guilty and free, while others are innocent and detained, and among them are those who wrote to the relevant authorities, cautioning them with no response, but rather have been detained for two years without trial!”

He added that in wake of the “politicized judiciary” in Lebanon, calls were made from the very first day of the blast “for an international investigation, as the crime may be a crime against humanity if it turns out that it was pre-planned…”

“The complexities of the local investigation and the political obstacles came to acknowledge the right to renew the demand for an international investigation if the situation persists,” he said, adding that “no state has the right to refrain from conducting a Lebanese investigation and, in return, prevent an international investigation.”

“Surprisingly, the crime of the port explosion is absent from the government’s concerns before and after its resignation. Rather, some of its ministers ignore it and others impede the course of justice unjustly, and without the cabinet taking the initiative to act and address this matter,” al-Rahi maintained.

“With this memorial service, we wish to add our voice to that of the families of the victims and martyrs, to the voice of the wounded and disabled, and to the voice of those affected,” he said, pledging “commitment before the Lord, the homeland, the families of the martyrs, the injured and those affected, and before the wounded capital, Beirut, to strive hard and sincerely to resolve this national and humanitarian issue that is above all issues.”

“Only in the light of truth and justice can we stand before God, glorify and give thanks to the Lord Almighty,” al-Rahi concluded.

  • NNA