By Robin Gomes
“I want to encourage all to live this time fruitfully, generously, and with hope. Let us look out for one another. I join in the appeal of religious leaders to believers in God worldwide, to set aside ‘a day for fasting, prayers and supplications’” on May 14, wrote Myanmar Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), in a statement on May 10.
He was responding to the proposal of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity that calls for a day of “prayer and supplication” to God on May 14 for an end to the covid-19 pandemic.
Pope Francis on May 3 voiced his support for the initiative of the group, which is made up of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders committed to reconciliation and peace in the world.
“Since prayer is a universal value,” the Holy Father said during his midday Regina Coeli prayer, “I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14 May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic.”
Lasting effects of Covid-19
Pointing to the immense suffering of all, especially the poor, Cardinal Bo in his statement said that the Covid-19 pandemic is “like a world war”. Even if the virus is defeated, its “legacy will live with us for decades”.
If governments do not meet the challenge, he warned, they will lose the trust of their people. The gravest epidemic we face, he pointed out, is the erosion of trust, adding, “nothing has affected the whole world as radically as this virus”.
The pandemic, the Archbishop of Yangon said offers us time to go inside, but it gives us also time to be aware of others, to encourage one another, a time for solidarity with vulnerable people, and a time to pray to understand what is happening in our world.
The president of Asian bishops conferences urged Asians to make use of the Covid-19 crisis and time to “reach out to support others” creatively.
“Don’t just sit down on your hands and wait. Don’t deny reality. We must be proactive. Start moving,” the FABC president urged.
“Take advantage of this time to find and live the rhythms and relationships that you want to characterise our future. Imagine and prepare for a changed world by building working relationships of trust that will stand for decades to come.”
“This,” Cardinal Bo said, “is a time to take to our world the goodness, mercy and love of God.”