Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai
On Sunday, 27 January, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites called a special day of solidarity with Syrian refugees in nearly a thousand parishes, religious communities, shrines, schools and academic institutions throughout the Lebanon.
The UN has registered more than 220,000 Syrian refugees in the country. Fr Simon Faddoul, President of Caritas Lebanon said this number was probably much higher. "Probably they exceed the figure of 400 thousand," he said. "Many are living in desperate conditions, made even more unbearable due to the harsh winter this year."
Caritas Lebanon is already directly assisting more than 50 thousand displaced Syrians, distributing food, clothing, medicines, stoves for heating, hygiene products.
On Sunday, special prayers for victims of the conflict were said in all Eucharistic liturgies celebrated in Maronite churches.
In his appeal, Patriarch Rai called for prayers for peace "in Lebanon, Syria and in all the Arab countries " so that the Lord will "inspire local and international leaders to seek peaceful ways to end the violence and war, and to find the right solutions ".
For Christians, he said, the offer of aid was not only the response to a noble humanitarian sentiment, but also to the invitation by Jesus himself. The Patriarch - who celebrate Sunday Mass in the patriarchal see of Bkerké, quoted Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: "Come, blessed by my Father, you inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you gave me hospitality, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to visit me ... When you do it also for the last of my brothers, you do it for me."