Religious leaders unite in prayer for peace during COVID-19
On September 26 2020, European and African leaders united in an interfaith prayer event online to call for the continued work of peace amid the current pandemic and the eradication or COVID-19.
Hundreds gathered to pray as the United Nations marked its 75th anniversary and International Peace Month. Faith leaders from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religious joined Heavenly Culture World Peace and Restoration of Light (HWPL) to host the event.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) is a non-governmental organization in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and associated with the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC). The international peace organisation participates in various initiatives and projects around the world to support world peace and cessation of war, including international law, peace education, women and youth empowerment, and interfaith peace work.
“When we work together like that, it takes away any thought of disagreement, warfare, and the violence that can become endemic when we are so afraid.”
– Reverend Berry Behr of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative
Human rights violations increased dramatically across the world since coronavirus’ first outbreak. Europe saw this first-hand when the virus struck Italy and, more recently, the UK; internationally, coronavirus has led to increased vulnerability to other diseases, gender-based violence, deepened inequalities, and violent extremism in countries such as Mozambique.
Among the leaders who led the prayers was Hajj Abdulmalik Molapo from the Muslim community, Sister Dipty from Brahma Kumaris, Guru Medhavi Das from Hare Krishna, Inalda de Jorge-Antonio from Spiritual Consciousness, and Hindu leader Swami Vedanand.
“If we as faith leaders are taking the lead and leading our continent, we will realise we are not a dark continent. We are a bright continent, we just need focused spiritual leadership because it is the moral compass that directs nations.”
– Rev Phumzile Stofile, ANC chaplaincy for the Western Cape province of South Africa
Although the online event was hosted by interfaith leaders in Africa, faith leaders in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Switzerland also participated, along with members of civil society, youth, and various congregations.
HWPL has held Interfaith Dialogue Meetings, known as WARP Office Meetings, with over 700 religious leaders represented over 250 meetings. These are hosted monthly with the aim of preventing conflicts caused by religious misunderstandings by engaging the standards and teachings of various religions and examining the concept of peace in each scripture.
How coronavirus plays in the coming months may be unclear, but one thing that is certain: leaders coming together and uniting in events like these serves a glimmer of hope and a step in the right direction towards finally achieving world peace.