“Today I would like to make a special appeal to the religious leaders of all faiths to join forces to work for world peace and to focus on our common fight against Covid-19”. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has chosen “A particular moment in the spiritual calendar”, who sees coinciding or succeeding the Christian feast of Easter, the Jewish Passover and the month of Ramadan, to write to religious leaders around the world.
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In a context of global health and economic crisis, it is not only a question of addressing them “Warmest wishes” but to send a message of caution and solidarity.
“These occasions, as we know, are always moments of communion: families meet, we kiss, we shake hands; human beings coming together, all over the world. But we are living in an unprecedented period ”, says Antonio Guterres, describing “A world of silent streets, closed shops, empty places of worship; a world of worry “.
Call to responsibility
“How can we celebrate at a time like this?” “ To answer this sensitive question, the UN Secretary General takes care not to take the place of the States, the only authorities capable of prohibiting rallies, but he invites believers to experience them in a more individual, more interior way. . “Let us draw our inspiration from the essence of these sacred moments, take the time to contemplate, to remember, to renew”, he writes.
“One of the objectives of this message is undoubtedly to make religious communities aware of their responsibility to avoid contributing to the spread of the coronavirus”, advises the political scientist François Mabille, director of the Geopolitical Observatory of the Religious of the Iris, while several of them, in France and elsewhere, have, sometimes involuntarily, been the source of contamination.
Authorities in Pakistan, Malaysia and India are looking for participants in Tabligh Muslim congregations after the deaths of several. In Israel, the army has been called in for reinforcements in the town of Bnei Brak to encourage residents, ultra-Orthodox Jews, to respect confinement. In the Phillippines, “Some penitents have defied the ban on leaving their homes to participate in the public flogging on Good Friday and to pray to” keep the virus away “”, also remarks François Mabille.
Religions at the service of solidarity and peace
To this call to responsibility, the UN secretary-general adds another, more traditional one, to solidarity. “In meditating, let us have a special thought for the health personnel who, on the front line, are fighting a heroic fight against this terrible virus, and for all those whose work allows our cities and towns to continue to live”, he writes. “Let us think of the most vulnerable among the vulnerable in the world”.
A register now “Fairly classic” for international organizations that have become used to “Rely on religious communities for health or education”, remarks François Mabille. “This is particularly true in Africa where congregations of female Catholic nuns are sometimes the only actors capable of acting. But in France too, religious actors are mobilizing at the moment with migrants, refugees or homeless people. “
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Finally, after launching an appeal for a global ceasefire on March 23, Antonio Guterres concluded his text by expressing his hope for a start in favor of peace. Aware that in many countries, in the Middle East or elsewhere, religions are invoked by various combatants, the UN Secretary General calls “Communities of diverse faiths and traditions (to) come together to take care of each other”.
“Together, we can defeat this virus, and we will defeat it, thanks to cooperation, solidarity and faith in our common humanity”, he assures.