One of the articles in the May-June 2020 edition of Nouvelles de Chrétienté questions whether anti-globalism is a conspiracy. Here is an extract relating the last interreligious day promoted by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, a worldwide interfaith day of fasting and prayer was organized on May 14 by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity for the benefit of all believers of all religions. This day was approved by both Pope Francis and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.
This call to prayer was formulated in these words: “we should not forget to seek refuge in God, as we face this severe crisis. Therefore, we call upon all peoples around the world to pray according to each one’s, respective religious convictions, to observe fast and to do good deeds to end this pandemic. May each of us, wherever we are, and according to the teachings of our own respective faith traditions and philosophies, seek divine help to rescue ourselves and the entire world from this adversity, to inspire scientists to find a cure for the virus and to save the whole world from the health, economic, and human repercussions of this serious pandemic.”
Pope Francis echoed it: “Remember, May 14, all believers together, believers of the different [religious] traditions, to pray, to fast, and to do works of charity.” Mentioning the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, Pope Francis added: “Since prayer is a universal value, I accepted its proposal.”
UN Secretary General António Guterres also endorsed the initiative: “In difficult times, we must stand together for peace, humanity & solidarity. I join His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb in their support for the Prayer for Humanity this 14 May – a moment for reflection, hope, and faith.”
The great Imam of Al-Azhar was less ecumenical than the Pope and the Secretary General of the United Nations: “I welcome the committee’s noble humanitarian appeal to invite people around the world to pray, to beg for the good of all humanity and to do good in the name of Allah the Almighty, in order to remove this pandemic that is hitting us and the whole world.”
It is worth remembering, by the way, that the Higher Committee has nine members, including two Roman prelates: Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Msgr. Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, the one of Pope Francis’ private secretaries.
On May 14, the day of interreligious prayer, Pope Francis delivered a homily to the “brothers and sisters of each religious tradition,” in which he dismissed the objection of syncretism, saying that he: “could imagine some people would say that gathering believers of all religions to pray for a common cause ‘is religious relativism, and you can’t do it.’” And asking, “‘but how can you not pray to the Father of all?’ We are all united as human beings, as brothers and sisters, praying to God each according to our own culture, traditions and beliefs, but brothers and sisters praying to God. This is important!” – Brothers of which Father? The one and triune God, Allah, Buddha? Does it matter?