The Knights of Columbus has sent $250,000 for disaster relief to Lebanon in the wake of the devastating Beirut explosion.
At least 178 people were killed and 6,000 were injured in a blast near Beirut’s port on August 4. Nearly 3,000 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate ignited, causing extensive damage to the city and flattening buildings near the port. Some 300,000 people were left temporarily homeless.
Lebanon had already been struggling economically in the months before the blast, with its currency losing approximately 70% of its value since last October and the World Bank forecasting that half of its population would become poor in 2020, according to CNN.
The Knights’ gift was conveyed through Bishop Gregory Mansour, who leads the Maronite Eparchy (diocese) of St. Maron of Brooklyn, NY. It will include: $125,000 for Caritas Lebanon; $50,000 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society; $50,000 for Telelumiere/Noursat Christian Television in the Middle East; and $25,000 for Sesobel, which serves special needs children and their families.
Bishop Mansour said the donations “mark the special charism of the Knights: to serve the poor, to lift up our special needs children, to communicate the saving message of Christ, and to remind the small and tireless Church now in Lebanon… that men of good will are near to them in their time of need.”
The Knights’ gift follows a donation by Pope Francis of 250,000 euros ($295,488) in aid as an expression “of his fatherly closeness to people in serious difficulty,” a Vatican press release stated.
“This is a great tragedy that merits the prayers and full attention of the world,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in announcing the Knights’ donation Tuesday. “The calamity in Lebanon is a threat to the vital Christian community there and threatens the existence of Christianity throughout the Middle East. This desperate situation must be addressed.”