“We encourage all the Christian faithful in Asia to live fruitfully, generously and with hope the Day of fasting, prayer and works of charity, scheduled all over the world on May 14, to call for divine intercession to help humanity overcome the coronavirus outbreak. Let us unite as religious leaders and as believers in God all over the world.”:
This is the appeal launched by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. In the message sent to Fides News Agency explained the Churches of Asia will, therefore, join the “Day of prayer, fasting and works of charity”, called at a universal level by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, to ask God to protect humanity from the coronavirus pandemic. The appeal was re-launched by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb.
“The Covid-19 pandemic in the world is now a ‘perfect storm’. It challenges our ways of living, working, and celebrating. It is a time of trial for everyone, especially the unemployed, migrant workers, the poor and groups of marginalized populations”, noted Archbishop Bo.
“In most Asian countries there are now restrictions. Schools are closed, factories are closed, markets are running out of supplies, traveling is prohibited. Yet, conflicts continue”, continues the note sent to Fides.
“Many people ask: when will all this end in order to return to normality? The answer to the question is that it will not end, in the sense that things will never be the same again. Asia has experienced many conflicts, wars, and endless crises, the Tsunami, the cyclone Nargis and frequent devastating typhoons. Every crisis has changed us. This time all the countries in the world have been affected and the pandemic will leave our world deeply changed. Politics will change. International relations will be different”.
Cardinal Bo notes: “A catastrophe that affects over 200 countries changes the world. It is like a world war. Even if Covid-19 will probably be contained in a few months, what will be left will live with us for decades. It will affect the way we see and understand community, the way we connect, how we travel, how we build our relationships will change. If governments do not face the challenge, they will lose the trust of their peoples”.
In this crisis, the key elements of good leadership are seen: giving guidelines, creating meaning and empathy, taking responsibility and protecting and including the poor and weak, the vulnerable: “In a crisis like this, true leaders exploit their opportunities to build trust, “not anxiety and terror, says the note.
Today we ask ourselves: “Why have we allowed so much division in the world? Why are so many areas of Asia subject to conflict? Why do we have the longest wars in the world in Asia? Observing our history so far, why haven’t stronger ties been created when we had the chance? Why do millions of people have to migrate abroad, just to be able to live? Can we, therefore, build an inclusive economy that puts the dignity of the person first? Can we have tenacious solidarity and desire for the common good based on respect?”.
At the moment, the Cardinal underlines, patience, energy, and intelligence are needed: “This is the time to organize our lives and energies wisely; a time to feed our imagination and intelligence and prepare for a new world. It is time to understand that we depend on each other and learn to work together, sharing responsibilities, and appreciating solidarity. Above all, this is a time to put aside hatred and weapons and face the common enemy that is attacking all humanity”.
“The pandemic offers us a time to encourage each other, a time of solidarity with vulnerable people and a time to pray to understand what is happening in our world”, says the text, thus motivating to join the special Day of prayer and fasting on May 14. “Across Asia, many people are hurt, physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. It is time to bring the goodness, mercy, and love of God to our world”, concludes the President of the FABC, appealing to unity, solidarity, and fraternity of all religious communities in Asia.