JAKARTA (UCAN): “It is our obligation to always pray to God that he will immediately set our people, our nation and our state as well as the world free from this pandemic,” Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said in a televised speech to open a mass interfaith prayer event on May 14. He called on people of all faiths to continue praying for an end to the Covid-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, stressing the need for them not to lose hope.
The prayer was part of the May 14 Day of Prayer and Fasting and Works of Charity called by the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, an international group of religious leaders formed after Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar, signed a document in 2019 on promoting dialogue and human fraternity.
Joining the event, held by the Religious Affairs Ministry and livestreamed on YouTube, were vice president, Ma’ruf Amin, and prominent figures from the country’s six recognised religions—Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism—including Ignatius Cardinal Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta.
“In facing this difficult situation, we must not be pessimistic and not lose hope. It is our obligation to continue making efforts with everything we have in order to protect ourselves as well as our families, our brothers and sisters, our nation and our state from the coronavirus,” Widodo said.
He also invited all followers of all faiths to shake off fears propagated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Have optimistic feelings, increase empathy and grow social solidarity. It’s time for us to look around, to help our brothers and sisters, to assist our neighbours, to lend a hand to our friends, to work together in carrying our nation’s burdens,” Widodo said.
“Each religious community has said prayers (for) God (to) end the pandemic. A national prayer event is now being held. This time, we pray to God—together with all the faithful from across the world—for a better future which is free from any pandemic,” he said.
In his prayer, Cardinal Suharyo called for international unity to fight the pandemic.
“Encourage us to involve, to work together in creative ways and to take the right stance in accordance with our national leaders’ policies and health protocols,” the cardinal prayed.
“Grow in all Indonesian people—both those who live in Indonesia and overseas—the spirit of unity, true fraternity and the willingness to share, particularly with those affected by this pandemic,” he said.
As of May 14, Indonesia had recorded 16,006 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,043 deaths.