Vatican, World Council of Churches join hands in addressing pandemic

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Protestant World Council of Churches have released a joint document calling on the faithful to reflect on the importance of solidarity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The document titled “Serving a Wounded World in Inter-religious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19” encourages “churches and Christian organizations to reflect on the importance of inter-religious solidarity in a world wounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The document provides a “Christian rationale” for inter-religious solidarity in response to the crisis even as it also addresses followers of other faiths and religions “who have already responded” to the pandemic with similar reflections based on their own traditions.

The document affirms that “inter-religious relationships can be a powerful means of expressing and building solidarity, and of opening ourselves to resources coming to us from beyond our limitations.”

The two religious bodies invited the faithful to reflect “on how we as Christians can become partners in solidarity with all people of faith and goodwill.”

“In this journey towards solidarity, different communities are inspired and sustained by the hope we find in our respective traditions,” read the document.

In a series of statements, the document notes that all human beings are a family, created by God according to the Father’s plan and that “our trust and our hope are in Jesus Christ” and that we are “all connected by the work of the Holy Spirit.”

Commuters wearing masks ride a subway train amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Seoul, South Korea Aug. 24. (Photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

The document said the statement serves as the foundation for universal solidarity, following the example of Jesus Christ in serving others, inspired by the spiritual force of the Spirit that “turns us towards God in prayer and towards our neighbors in service and solidarity.”

The document cited Christian principles — humility and vulnerability, respect for others, compassion, dialogue, repentance, gratitude and generosity, and love — that can “guide us in our work of serving each other in a wounded world, together with all people of faith and goodwill.”

The joint statement offers recommendations on how Christians can serve others by bearing witness to suffering, solidarity through common forms of spirituality, by encouraging and supporting the idealism and energy of the young, and restructuring of projects and processes for inter-religious solidarity, among others.

In his introduction to the document, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, said the pandemic “has exposed the woundedness and fragility of our world.”

He said the global health crisis revealed “that our responses must be offered in an inclusive solidarity, open to followers of other religious traditions and people of goodwill, given the concern for the entire human family.”

Dr. Ioan Sauca, interim general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said that in the face of the pandemic, “the human family is facing together an unprecedented call to protect one another, and to heal our communities.”

“Inter-religious dialogue not only helps clarify the principles of our own faith and our identity as Christians, but also opens our understanding of the challenges — and creative solutions — others may have,” he said.

A woman sits on a piece of styrofoam while queueing for cash subsidy from the government amid the new coronavirus outbreak, in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Aug. 27. (Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

Related Stories