THE Lebanese hope that in 2022 there will be a change in the fortunes of the country after several years of worsening economic, social and political chaos. So far, however, there is no sign of the turnaround the country is yearning for.
Lebanese Christians are counting on the support in the form of prayers from the world church within the framework of the current Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC). Significantly, the Beirut-based Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) was the organizer of this year’s Week of Prayer.
Opening prayers on Monday, the Cilician Patriarch of Armenian Catholics, Raphael Bedros XXI Minassian, told a congregation at the Cathedral of Saint Elijah and Saint Gregory the Illuminator, Beirut, that “if we desire unity, we will not fully understand its true meaning. We are scattered over the earth, and we have fallen into the tumult of individual and collective selfishness. Christ “was not born and crucified for a certain group, for an elite, but for all nations for the salvation of all mankind.
Focusing specifically on Lebanon and its current challenges, the WCC’s acting assistant general secretary and director of its faith and order commission, Rev. Odair Pedroso Mateus, stressed that the Lebanese churches and people have been of a persistent political economic crisis, and faced the tragedy of the August 2020 explosion in Beirut, which killed hundreds and left hundreds of thousands injured or homeless”.
Nevertheless, “Christians from different churches in Lebanon and neighboring countries have found the spiritual strength to come together and prepare resources” for the Week of Prayer.
“They invited us to turn to the star in the East and worship the incarnate God together,” Dr Mateus continued. “For this precious spiritual gift, we are grateful to God and to them.”
The MECC said that in preparing the resources for the week, Christians in the region were “aware that the world shares many of the labors and difficulties they experience, and longs for a light to open the way for the Savior who darkness can defeat. The global Covid-19 pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis and the inability of political, economic and social structures to protect the weakest and most vulnerable have highlighted the need for a light to shine in the darkness.
For now, there is no indication of what might lift the darkening shadow over Lebanon; the cabinet is so divided that it has not even met since its appointment last September. The economy, meanwhile, is in a state of collapse. The Rector of All Saints, Beirut, Ven. Imad Zoorob, who is also the archdeacon of Lebanon and Syria, said on Tuesday that the continued decline of the Lebanese pound against the dollar was putting basic food and medicine out of reach for a growing number of people.
Asked if the Lebanese expected to see an improvement in the coming months, Archdeacon Zoorob replied: “An improvement? If cabinet ministers don’t meet, how can things get better? »
Politics continues to be dominated by the same rival political or sectarian groups that have jostled for power for decades, despite calls for reform and popular protests against their incompetence and corruption. The prominent role in the country’s government played by the Iran-backed Hezbollah organization is a source of contention and has soured relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, which have traditionally contributed to support the Lebanese economy.
Lebanese Christians, Archdeacon Zoorob continues, “still cling to their faith, hoping that God will deliver them from this madness and living hell. Many send their young children just to keep them out of this mess so they can have a more decent life than ours.
“What can you expect from a nation facing annihilation on all levels, including social and humanitarian?”