The Elijah Interfaith Institute and its Board of World Religious Leaders have brought together some of the world’s most prominent religious leaders to offer guidance in relating to the spiritual challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic and to suggest a vision for the world following the crisis. One of the key messages that emerges from “Coronaspection” — a video compilation of 40 world religious leaders’ spiritual introspection in light of the Coronavirus pandemic–is the message of solidarity and interconnectivity.
Religious leaders from seven religions spanning fifteen countries including Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading Muslim imams, Chief Rabbis, swamis, cardinals, and teachers participated in the project.
The Coronaspection trailer features solidarity and unity as key messages that emerge out of the global pandemic, messages that have become even more relevant in light of recent global events.
As Elder Jeffrey Holland of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints states in his interview, “Life is Precious. Everybody Matters. These moments are universal.” The sentiment is echoed by major faith leaders of all religions. “All of humanity is one,” affirms Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, or as Armenian Patriarch Mashalian succinctly notes, “The brotherhood of humanity is a scientific fact.” Yahya Cholil Staquf, secretary-general of the world’s largest Muslim organization, based in Indonesia (Nahdlatul Ulama) states, “Physical and social borders are becoming more and more irrelevant.” Accordingly, confirms Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, head of the Masorti Movement in the UK, “What happens to one will ultimately happen to all.” Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury concludes, “There’s an interconnectivity that allows the spread of evil and of sin and of fear and of resistance to the other…the challenge is, can we transform interconnectivity to a connectivity of compassion, generosity, and love?”
The interviews, moderated by the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s Director, Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein will be published three times a week over the next month at Tablet Magazine in a 12-part series. For a complete list of participants, bios, and summaries of remarks click here.
The interviews offer a fascinating comparative window on how different religious leaders, across a diversity of traditions, explain and come to terms with the events currently unfolding throughout the world. Taken as a whole, the project is both comparative teaching about religions and a cross-religious inspiration for the spiritual life. It is as relevant for issues emerging directly out of the COVID-19 crisis as it is to ongoing challenges of life, including the current struggle for equality in the face of racism. The interviews focus not only on theoretical perspectives but seek to offer religious inspiration. To this end, most of the interviews end in prayer and sometimes meditation, possibly aiding viewers to cope with contemporary spiritual challenges posed by the coronavirus.
“Surely the world needs more than masks at this moment. It needs meaning. It needs direction. It needs hope. It needs tools to overcome not only the physical challenges presented by the Coronavirus but also the spiritual challenges. If the crisis is global, the teaching too must be global. While every teacher addresses his or her community, no one had sought to bring together voices across religious diversity in order to offer teaching, meaning, and hope,” said Institute Director Goshen-Gottstein.
Long-form versions of the interviews as well as shorter wisdom gems are also available on the Elijah Institute’s www.coronaspection.org and on its YouTube channel as well as on social media and international platforms.
The Elijah Interfaith Institute is a nonprofit, international, UNESCO-sponsored interfaith organization that was founded by Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein in 1997. The mission of the Elijah Interfaith Institute, encapsulated in its slogan “Sharing Wisdom, Fostering Peace,” is to deepen understanding between religions.