A bishop in Lebanon has said that Catholic schools in the country could close down due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has called on intervention from the West to save them.
Bishop Michel Aoun of Jbeil-Byblos of the Maronites says the economic crisis has overwhelmed the country and 80% of Catholic schools could close because “people do not want to pay and the Church does not have the necessary cash to meet all expenses”.
“It’s a vicious circle and we don’t know when it will end,” says Bishop Aoun. “I am appealing to the West, to the world Church, to help us in this period of emergency. I cry out to you: help us!
“The government promised to fight corruption, but so far it has nothing to show,” Bishop Aoun says.
For months the country has had to face deep economic and political crises, exacerbated by the war in Syria and now the coronavirus.
The Church has responded by opening two Church-owned facilities for patients and providing land for farming. Family budgets have also suffered from the lockdown of the private sector and business closures.
Basic resources, food and medicines are in short supply; many people, especially in the private sector, have lost their jobs or are not paid at the end of the month.
“There is no work,” says Bishop Aoun. “We are repeatedly calling for solidarity to support the action of bishops and parishes.
“We have prepared food parcels for monthly distribution. We try to help families in difficulty, with the few means we have.”