By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency
[Vatican City- CNA] – On Thursday, May 14, people of all religious affiliations are called to participate in a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.
The worldwide day of prayer is the initiative of the Vatican’s Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, formed in August under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The committee sent out an appeal for prayer in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Pashto, Malay, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, and Hebrew.
“While we reaffirm the role of medicine and scientific research in fighting this pandemic, we should not forget to seek refuge in God, the All-Creator, as we face such severe crisis,” the committee wrote in the appeal.
It continued: “Each one from wherever they are and according to the teachings of their religion, faith, or sect, should implore God to lift this pandemic off us and the entire world, to rescue us all from this adversity, to inspire scientists to find a cure that can turn back this disease, and to save the whole world from the health, economic, and human repercussions of this serious pandemic.”
Pope Francis said that he had accepted the committee’s proposal so that “believers of all religions will unite spiritually on May 14 in a day of prayer and fasting and works of charity to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Remember, on May 14, all believers together, believers of different traditions will pray, fast, and do works of charity,” Pope Francis said at the end of his Regina Coeli address on May 3.
Following the pope’s acceptance, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb and the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres both backed the proposed world day of prayer.
“In difficult times, we must stand together for peace, humanity & solidarity,” Guterres wrote on Twitter May 3 in announcing his support for the initiative. “In difficult times, we must stand together for peace, humanity & solidarity.”
The Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue formed the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity in late August to work towards the goals for advancing world peace and coexistence laid out in the Document on Human Fraternity, which was released on Feb. 4, 2019 during Pope Francis’ apostolic journey to the United Arab Emirates.
Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot leads the committee, which is made up of members belonging to Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths.
Cardinal Ayuso said in an interview with Vatican Insider May 12 that the worldwide day of prayer will not involve any sort of public gathering in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but invites each person to pray according to their own tradition.
“It is not a question of organizing, nor will it be organized with anything public or shared. Each one on that day will be able to turn his prayer to God to save and protect humanity from this terrible epidemic,” Ayuso said.
“The world today has an urgent need more than ever for positive and common responses to emerge from dialogue between religions,” the cardinal said.
“This crisis has confronted us with the reality of being part of the one human family and encourages us to promote human brotherhood wherever we live.” – Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot