Religion in times of COVID-19

COVID-19 affects people of all faiths worldwide. We would like to provide an overview of different statements and initiatives by PaRD members in response to the virus. We do not claim that this overview is exhaustive and are looking forward to learning more about further activities.

Holy sites of religions around the world, for example of Muslims in Mecca, are almost empty, the small pilgrimage, the Umrah, has been suspended and it is still unclear whether pilgrims can come to the big pilgrimage, the Hajj, in summer. It is a painful impression for those who would like to celebrate Easter in churches or for those who are preparing for the Ramadan.

A picture that captured the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on faith communities was Pope Francis praying on a deserted Saint Peter’s Square in Rome on a rainy Friday evening. He stood in front of a TV camera, giving viewers the apostolic blessing of “Urbi et Orbi”, which is usually reserved to the most important Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter. However, during these days, especially in a country under lockdown, nothing is as usual and extraordinary measures are being taken even by the faith leaders to be close to their communities.

Regardless of the higher need for worship, in a situation of crisis, it is part of the responsibility of religions worldwide to call their communities to stay and pray at home. “In times of unprecedented crisis there is need to listen to our faith leaders, armed with faith and science, and to our medical establishments, and our governments, and common sense – all of which guide us that temporarily staying away from public spaces – including temples, mosques, synagogues, churches, gurudwaras – to avoid the risk of infecting one another, may well be the most effective means of saving lives,” the PaRD members Religions for Peace and ACT alliance say in a joint statement on the current COVID-crisis.

PaRD members like the above make it clear that: Religions do matter even and especially when houses of worship are necessarily closed. Religions can instead engage with virtual prayers and show their closeness to their communities with humanitarian aid. The USAID Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives is tracking the work faith-based and community-based organizations are doing within the COVID-19 response. Click here if you want to add your initiative. The World Bank’s Global Faith Engagement team is also collecting information from key FBOs on their current response. Kindly fill out this form and send it to faith@worldbank.org

The reactions of religious actors in the world to the pandemic are manifold. That is why PaRD member KAICIID Dialogue Centre has launched the campaign #ReligionsRespond, where religious leaders, policy makers, interfaith organizations and others raise awareness about the work of religious communities in response to the current crisis. You can share your initiative with them in Social Media or via press@kaiciid.org.

The PaRD members Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities (JLI) and World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) together with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University have launched an online platform and daily emails to collect information related to religious action responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Send relevant material to covid19.faithresponse@gmail.com or subscribe here to receive the updates.

See further initiatives in our link list!

Trust between religions through the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 crisis helps to strengthen the trust in interreligious partnerships even beyond the current humanitarian disaster, Prof. Dr. Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace (RfP), is convinced. In our interview, she emphasizes the need for a collaboration that crosses national, religious and institutional boundaries, she reflects on how PaRD can respond to the crisis and gives an insight into the situation in New York.

Read the full interview

PaRD Webinar on COVID-19 response on April 29th

PaRD hosted a webinar on COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges for religious/ faith actors and communities? Responses from the field and global Partners on April 29th.

Full report

See the presentations of:

Dr. Katherine Marshall - WFDD, Berkley Center, Georgetown University

Ms. Mercy Niwe - The World Bank Group 

Rev. Kyoichi Sugino - Religions for Peace International

Mr. Jørgen Thomsen - Dan Church Aid/ ACT Alliance

Dr. Olivia Wilkinson - Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI)